Age: 20 Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6’ 7” Weight: 190 lb.
Drafted out of Cypress Hill HS in the 3rd Round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft
Casey Meisner, much like the other two prospects the Oakland Athletics traded for from the Houston Astros – Jacob Nottingham and Daniel Mengden – is a piece still a few years away. Coming into the 2015 season, he ranked #15 on MLB.com and #21 on FanGraphs within the New York Met’s farm system. Also, much like Nottingham, if the rankings were redone today, Meisner would likely see a considerable rise (possibly cracking the top 10). Either way he will head to Stockton to join the rest of the talent the A’s have compiled in the last few days. He will likely not be the last, so let’s take a look.
Meisner’s first three seasons in professional baseball have been consistently trending upwards, culminating in his current breakout season. After being eased into starting (pitching) in his first year at the pro level in the short-season Gulf Coast League – fifth on the team with 35 1/3 innings – he performed well in 2014 with the Low Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones. Through 13 starts, he tossed 62 1/3 innings while striking out 67, posting a 3.75 ERA and only surrendering 18 walks. He carries a career 2.6 walks per nine innings (BB/9), which is highly impressive.
This year Meisner really came into his own, starting in the Single-A South Atlantic League and dominating the competition over his 12 starts. Through 76 innings, he registered a 2.13 ERA (fifth in the league) and although his K’s dipped slightly (66), his base on balls total remained low (19). Along with a 7-2 record, he earned himself a call-up to High Single-A ball in the Florida State League, where he’s outperformed expectations as the youngest starter on the staff. Over his six starts, he’s led the St. Lucie Mets with a 2.83 ERA through 35 innings.
The only area of concern has been the amount of contact he’s allowed this season. Batters are hitting .256 against him (very respectable) in High Single-A, up from .212 from Single-A. That combined with a slight BB/9 rise (3.6), Meisner’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) has climbed all the way to 4.72 (has steadily risen each season). However, while this statistic offers an interesting measurement of how good a pitcher is “supposed” to be, he combats it by doing one thing very well, leaving runners on base. The league average left on base percentage (LOB%) ranges from 70-72%, but Meisner’s hovers around 80%. It is an undervalued skill that obviously has helped him and hopefully will continue to do so.
Coming out of high school, Meisner was sitting 88-92mph with his fastball and is now 90-94, maxing out at 95. He’s also got a curveball and a changeup. According to FanGraphs, his pitches rank as such: Fastball 55/60, Curveball + 45/50, 45/50 Changeup, 40/50 Command. To put that in perspective, these types of numbers were similar to those of LHP Steven Matz – made his MLB debut before the All Star break – who looks to prime to become a quality arm.
His curveball is his only plus-pitch – although I’ve also read it needs some fine-tuning – and the area he has the most room for improvement in will be with his changeup. It currently stands as his least developed pitch. As for his the fastball, it might have a chance to increase in velocity with his young age and frame not having filled out yet. The flipside however with this, “typical super-lanky pitcher” according to FanGraph’s Kiley McDaniel, is “with so much projection it’s hard to say exactly what Meisner’s upside really is.” The reason for the right-handers projection being so difficult is likely due to his size. A super-lanky pitcher – especially with a high ceiling like his – normally comes with command issues, however he breaks that mold. As a result, he doesn’t really fit in any typical category and outliers can difficult to judge.
Meisner is a guy who’s long-term role is difficult to project, but based on his ability to remain on a upward trending path, I could definitely see a future middle-of-the-rotation guy. The Mets seemed to know what they were doing drafting him in the early rounds and selecting a ‘high-risk high-reward’ pitcher, and so far it’s been more of a reward. He’s still two, maybe three years away from the show, but a name to remember down the road that one day will hopefully contribute to the Green & Gold.