LAKE ELSINORE, Calif.—Casey Meisner went from one the Athletics' top 10 prospects to out of their Top 30 altogether last year.
Given a do-over at high Class A Stockton, the 6-foot-7 righthander is rebuilding his prospect stock.
Meisner gave up just one hit and an unearned run over eight innings to lead Stockton to a 2-1 victory over high Class A Lake Elsinore (Padres) on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Texan walked one, struck out seven, and needed just 89 pitches to complete his eight innings. He is now 5-5, 4.12 after going 1-14, 4.85 with Stockton last season.
"Last year I was working on a whole new delivery. They kind of changed some things up on me, staying over the rubber more and finishing more upright, so I was trying to get comfortable with it," Meisner said. "The coaches really helped me out by sticking with me and telling me just trust the process. Finally this year everything is rolling a little bit better."
The Mets drafted Meisner in the third round in 2013 and traded him to the Athletics for Tyler Clippard and cash at the 2015 trade deadline. Meisner was ranked the A's No. 9 prospect heading into the 2016 season, but his season was so poor that scouts who evaluated Stockton during the year largely didn't even make note of him.
Sent back to the California League this spring, Meisner faced his failures and emerged a new pitcher.
"In the past he's been centered in the plate, deep in counts, walking people and putting himself in precarious situations," Stockton manager Rick Magnante said. "By pitching more effectively with better command and control and using his arsenal, you're seeing the kind of pitcher we hope this young man can be."
That all came to a head Saturday. Meisner retired 10 of his first 11 batters and 12 straight from the fourth inning into the eighth. He sat 92-95 mph with his fastball and held his velocity to the end, got multiple off-balance swings and misses with a late-dropping 78-80 mph changeup and mixed in an effective mid-80s cutter and low-80s slider.
"Mainly tonight it was just about attacking these hitters," Meisner said. "They were very aggressive but as long as I could hit some of my spots, there weren't many hard-hit balls. My changeup is my best pitch and I felt like it was hit or miss tonight, but that's why you always have a couple to work with."
Everything is trending in the right direction for Meisner. His strikeout rate is up, his walk rate is down, and the results are increasingly more and more positive.
In a roundabout way, his worst season has helped lead into one of his best.
"I just kind of cruised through my first years, so last year kind of helped me overall," Meisner said. "I learned how to deal with adversity. Of course I questioned it as far as 'What's going on? I'm terrible now,' but the coaches stuck with me and helped me a lot."
NEWS AND NOTES
• Lake Elsinore starter Joey Lucchesi, the Padres No. 24 prospect, pitched five innings, gave up five hits and two runs (one earned), walked one and struck out three. He sat 90-92 mph and touched 94 with his fastball out of his deceptive, stop-and-start delivery, and frequently landed his 78-80 mph curveball for strikes as his main secondary offering. Lucchesi also showed an 80-81 mph changeup and recorded his third pickoff of the season.
• Stockton catcher Sean Murphy, the Athletics No. 20 prospect, went 2-for-5 with two singles off Lucchesi. Outfielder Skye Bolt, the A's fourth-round pick in 2015, went 3-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI.
• Lake Elsinore center fielder Michael Gettys, the Padres No. 8 prospect, recorded the Storm's lone hit off Meisner with a fourth-inning triple. Ruddy Giron, the Padres No. 27 prospect, singled off closer Nolan Blackwood in the ninth for Lake Elsinore's only other hit.