Angels Bet On Meyer’s Arm Strength

ANAHEIMThe Aug. 1 trade of lefthander Hector Santiago to the Twins will be rendered a success or failure based on the performance of 6-foot-9 righthander Alex Meyer, the one-time top-50 prospect who was acquired along with veteran starter Ricky Nolasco.

It was a gamble for the Angels because the hard-throwing Meyer, 26, has been limited by a shoulder injury to 21 innings this season, 17 of them at Triple-A Rochester.

But with the Angels having a depleted farm system, general manager Billy Eppler felt he had to roll the dice.

“To get where we need to go, we’re going to need to take calculated risks,” Eppler said. “Risks that have a high degree of upside.”

Meyer, a Kentucky product and 2011 first-round pick of the Nationals, came to the Twins in the Denard Span trade after the 2012 season.

Meyer throws a 96 mph fastball with heavy sink that is both a swing-and-miss and groundball-producing pitch. He has a power breaking ball and a changeup that improved enough in 2014 to be a viable third pitch.

Some scouts wonder if poor control will force Meyer to the bullpen. He has walked 4.4 batters per nine innings at Triple-A. But the Angels plan to use him as a starter, with the hope that he will be ready to join the rotation in September.

Meyer dominated in 2014, going 7-7, 3.52 in 27 starts at Rochester with an International League-leading 153 strikeouts. He regressed in 2015 when he recorded a 4.79 ERA.

The Angels inquired about Meyer last winter, and they are so high on him that they were willing to give up one of their best starters in Santiago and take on the remaining $16 million left on Nolasco’s contract through 2017.

But they also sent power-armed righthanded reliever Alan Busenitz, whose fastball has touched 99 mph at Triple-A Salt Lake, to the Twins.

The Angels also acquired 20-year-old righthander Jesus Castillo from the Cubs in a deal that sent Joe Smith to Chicago. Castillo joined the low Class A Burlington rotation.

“We know he’s young,” Eppler said. “We know he’s athletic.”


• High school outfielder Brandon Marsh, a second-round pick who signed for $1.073 million, had a stress reaction in his back that will shelve him until next spring.

• Hard-throwing righthander Victor Alcantara, who went 3-7, 4.70 in 20 starts at Double-A Arkansas, moved to the bullpen in early August.

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