Cardinals Acquire Meisner From A’s For Lucas

photo: Casey Meisner (Oakland Clubhouse/Melissa Lockard)

St. Louis Cardinals press release

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired right-handed pitcher Casey Meisner (MIZE-ner) from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lucas.

Meisner, 22, was originally a 3rd round draft pick by the New York Mets out of Cypress Woods (Texas) High School in 2013.  On July 27, 2015, Meisner was traded to the Athletics for RHP Tyler Clippard and cash considerations.

The 6-foot-7 hurler is a two-time minor league All-Star, once in the South Atlantic League in 2015 and again in the hitter-friendly California League in 2017.  He finished the 2017 season with Midland (AA) of the Texas League.

Over a five-year minor league career, Meisner has compiled a 30-34 record with 3.66 ERA over 85 career starts (104 appearances) covering 491.2 innings pitched with 425 strikeouts.

Last season, Meisner was 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA over 24 starts (28 appearances) between Stockton (A) and Midland.  He ranked in the Top 10 among all Athletics minor league pitchers in wins (10, 3rd), innings pitched (133.2, 5th), strikeouts (117, 7th) and ERA (4.04, 9th).

In 2015, Meisner ranked 13th in all of Minor League Baseball with 13 wins and T-5th in Single-A while pitching for Savannah (A), St. Lucie (A) and Stockton (A).  He was a two-time Pitcher of the Week in 2017, once in the California League and again in the Texas League.  He has three double-digit strikeout games among his pitching accolades.

Lucas, 27, made five Major League appearances for the Cardinals in 2017 and led the Cardinals farm system with 17 saves in Memphis (AAA).

Meisner will be assigned to Springfield (AA).

Derek Shore’s take

In the aftermath of Jordan Hicks’ addition to the 40-man roster, Lucas was designated for assignment on Wednesday to make room for Hicks. Three days later, TCN’s No. 43 prospect was traded to Oakland for their No. 27 prospect Casey Meisner, according to both MLB Pipeline and Baseball America.

Casey Meisner (Stockton Ports)

Meisner, who was not on Oakland’s 40-man at the time of the trade, has experienced a myriad of peaks and valleys in his professional career. When he joined the A’s organization in July of 2015, the righty was seen as a potential top 10 prospect at that time in the Clippard deal.

Meisner got off to an excellent start with Oakland, posting a 2.78 ERA in seven starts with High-A Stockton after the trade. In fact, he was coming off a stellar start to the season with the Mets, putting together ERAs of 2.13 and 2.89 in Low-A and High-A prior to the trade.

Entering the 2016 campaign, Meisner appeared on a number of A’s top-10 prospects list, per some publications. Oakland Clubhouse said that some predicted he would jump to Double-A to start 2016, but he returned to Stockton where he started the year with a 0-11 record and finished the season with a 1-14 W-L and a 4.85 ERA.

It appeared at the start of the 2017 season, there would be more of the same from Meisner. He jumped out of the gates with an 8.84 ERA through his first 18 1/3 innings, but Oakland Clubhouse reported his coaches felt he was pitching better than his results indicated.

Meisner started to improve with the warmer weather in May and posted a 2.70 ERA with a 37-to-9 strikeout to walk. Even better, he had a 2.05 ERA and 27-to-7 strikeout to walk in June before a promotion to the Texas League on June 26.

“I think sometimes the grind is better than the promotion,” Oakland Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman told Oakland Clubhouse. “Working through things. Getting yourself to a place where you have to continue to battle and fight your way out. That’s what he did. The promotion came after he exhibited the ability to use his pitches to limit the number of walks – that’s always been an issue with him – and compete.

“He’s gone out there and done that. He’s certainly better. Sometimes it is better to work through a problem and really solve it before you prematurely send him and he has to work through it all again [at the next level]. I think he has improved quickly this (past) year and I think that experience helped him.”

Meisner concluded the season with a 4.04 ERA and a 117-to-47 strikeout to walk in 133 2/3 innings hurled. The Oakland Clubhouse said his command significantly improved with Stockton last year, but faltered again in Midland,  especially early in his stint with the Rockhounds. Though, once he acclimated to Double-A and got more comfortable, Meisner attacked the strike more aggressively and garnered success.

Standing at a whopping 6-foot-7, Meisner has struggled with his mechanics throughout his career, especially with his landing leg. Per Oakland Clubhouse, A’s coaches worked with him to make several adjustments to get him more online to home plate and take advantage of his length. The publication said he looked smoother and more confident as the 2017 season went on.

Command is also an issue for  Meisner, who sits mostly in the low-90s range but he can bump it up to 95 mph occasionally. He has a good mix of secondary pitches that include a changeup, cutter, curveball, and slider. His change flashes plus, but both of his breaking balls and command remain below-average.

Not only did he show an improved ability to be aggressive in the strike zone, but the A’s liked the mental fortitude he showcased to bounce back from a poor 2016 and finish strong at Double-A despite a rocky transition to the level.

Despite the recovery, Meisner went through the December 2017 Rule 5 Draft unclaimed.

Meisner projects as a fifth-starter/swingman type. While he was assigned to Springfield, Cardinals General Manager Michael Girsch told Fox Sports Midwest he will work with the organization’s pitching coaches in Jupiter, Florida before being sent out to an affiliate.

“We got a big right-hander,” Girsch told the telecast on Saturday. “He’s a young guy. He was a high school draft pick, so he’s been around for awhile. We’re excited to have him. He’s a 6-foot-7 guy with some potential. We’re excited to have the potential for another good arm.”

Josh Lucas (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

In Lucas, the Cardinals lose a longtime relief stalwart, who has notched 49 saves in 60 career opportunities over his six seasons in the organization.

Lucas made his major-league debut on August 19, throwing two innings of one-run ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates. During a couple of brief recalls, he worked 7 ⅓ innings in five appearances and gave up three earned runs.

He was expected to be one of the primary arms on the I-55 corridor this season. Instead, Lucas will be with the Athletics and start his career with them at Triple-A Nashville.

For more

The entire system view by level and position as last season ended with every transaction all year long is available via the Roster Matrix, always free, right here at The Cardinal Nation.

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