Casey Meisner, the Mets’ second third-round pick, is all about the projection. Standing 6-foot-7 and weighing just 185 pounds, the Texas high schooler is the definition of projectable. If the projection comes, it’s a great pick. If not, it’ll most likely be a wasted pick. Though I believe that Meisner will always have a lanky body type, the Mets are clearly betting that he will add on strength over time.
And he can definitely use it. Meisner was pushing himself into first-round consideration last summer and early in the spring when he was sitting 90-94, but his velocity faded as the season wore on, eventually dropping to the mid-80s. The hope is that additional strength and consistent mechanics give him the ability to consistently hit 92-94 with his heater with the chance to bump 96 when he needs it. Furthermore, his long arms should give the fastball a sharp, downward plane, potentially turning the fastball into a plus pitch. His fastball command isn’t perfect, but it’s generally seen as a positive.
The secondary offerings really need some work, as you’d expect from a prep pitcher taken in the third round. He throws a change and an 11-to-5 curve, the latter of which is the readier pitch. The curve has the chance to be above average, as it shows good depth right now, but it can be awfully wobbly at times, and he needs to learn how to throw it with more velocity; right now it sits around 75. The changeup has a little bit of sink to it--again, thanks to those long arms--but he allegedly telegraphs the pitch. The good news is that there is no obvious reason why either pitch shouldn’t improve in time.
And, like many Met draft picks, Meisner has pretty clean mechanics. The arm action isn’t terribly long at all, he separates his hands high, and he turns the ball over quickly, keeping pressure of his shoulder. That said, there’s still effort in the delivery, and the reason is timing. It’s notoriously difficult to get tall pitchers, especially those who aren’t great athletes, to synchronize their deliveries properly, and Meisner has his share of this difficulty. He takes a nice, long stride but may still be able to stride further, and despite this, and despite the clean arm action, his arm will sometimes lag behind his body, other times jumping out in front. Also, he turns his hips back before beginning his delivery, which is a good thing, but he often opens them up too quickly, meaning he gets good hip and torso torque but it’s largely going to waste (not to mention that it does give hitters a longer look at the ball). It’s going to take some work to get his moving parts to work in concert. Some guys can learn it, others never do.
I should point out that Keith Law has mentioned that he’s detected some serious head violence in Meisner’s delivery at release, even to the point that his face points down as the batter begins to swing at the pitch. I haven’t seen anything that obvious in the video I’ve seen--I’ve detected some, but I’m not sure I would have if I wasn’t specifically looking for it--but I’m sure Law is more familiar with Meisner than I am. Pitchers with head wacks are often unable to command their pitches, and it’s something to keep in mind if Meisner has difficulty locating.
Finally, a few miscellaneous points: First, I should point out that Meisner did have a disciplinary issue in high school, getting himself suspended from the team during the playoffs for skipping classes. It’s probably no big deal. Second, with regards to his signability, Meisner does have a commitment to Texas Tech, but he’s also expressed a desire to attend a junior college and go out for the draft again next year, something 2012 Mets draftee Teddy Stankiewicz elected to do a season ago. Personally, his most recent language suggests to me that he’s ready to sign, and I think it gets done.
The ceiling is high here, almost certainly even higher than it is with second rounder Andrew Church, but it may take Meisner a little longer due to his need to grow into his delivery and the inconsistent velocity we’ve been seeing from him. That said, I like the pick.