Twins' top prospects chip in to lead Desert Dogs
Meyer bounces back with two hitless innings; Buxton hits first AFL home run
His forgettable Arizona Fall League debut behind him, Glendale right-hander Alex Meyer returned Monday to the form that has made him one of baseball's best pitching prospects.
For two innings against Peoria, Meyer was dominant. He needed just 13 pitches to strike out the side in the first, and he followed that up with a perfect, eight-pitch second inning. Meyer's start helped lead Glendale to a 5-1 victory at Camelback Ranch.
Meyer, who is ranked No. 31 on MLB.com's Top 100 prospect list, said he had a much better feel for his whole arsenal Monday.
"Obviously, fastball command was big thing from the other night," Meyer said. "And I used my offspeed stuff. I wasn't really able to do last time out as much as would have liked."
Meyer was much more efficient Monday. He needed 31 pitches just to get out of the first inning last week. He said Glendale pitching coach Tom Browning challenged him to get two strikes on every hitter as fast as possible.
In addition to having poor fastball command in his first start, Meyer said he struggled to throw his breaking ball in the arid Arizona air. He worked with Browning to make an adjustment that allowed him to effectively mix in his breaking ball against the Javelinas.
"I had a good one going tonight," Meyer said. "I was able to get them to chase it put them away when I needed to."
The Desert Dogs also got important contributions from some of Meyer's Twins teammates. Center fielder Byron Buxton, MLB.com's No. 1 prospect, hit a home run, his first in the AFL. First baseman Max Kepler went 2-for-4 with a run and right-hander Trevor May pitched two innings in relief.
"It's fun when it's your whole organization out there playing a significant role in the game," Meyer said. "We're all out here rooting for each other."
Buxton hit .200 in an uneventful first week in the AFL, but he made his impact felt Monday. The 19-year old went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs. He has not played above Class A Advanced Fort Myers, but he said he is adjusting to the more advanced competition.
"They've got more than just the fastball to fall back on," Buxton said. "They go in and out and mix up their pitches real well. They can throw a curve when they want it, a changteup when they want it."
Two Royals prospects combined in the fifth inning to produce Peoria's lone run. Right fielder Jorge Bonafacio, their No. 5 prospect, led off the inning with a double. Designated hitter Cheslor Cuthbert, the Royals' No. 9 prospect, followed four batters later with an RBI single.
But Peoria ultimately had no answer for Meyer and the rest of the Glendale pitching staff. The Javelinas combined for six hits and struck out 10 times against seven Desert Dogs pitchers.
Meyer knows part of the reason he's pitching in the AFL is to make up developmental time he missed due to a shoulder injury this season, but he said he is relishing the opportunity to compete against many of baseball's best prospects in the AFL.
"The main thing, though, is to play against the best talent I've ever played against," Meyer said. "I want to show I can handle this quality of baseball and show the Twins that I'm hopefully able to help them out as soon as they're ready for me."