Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects 2023 Recap: Justin Meis Benefits From Move to the Bullpen

Local product Justin Meis struggled with Double-A Altoona in 2023

Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (2) stands during the national anthem with special
Cincinnati Reds right fielder Nick Castellanos (2) stands during the national anthem with special / Albert Cesare / The Enquirer via Imagn
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After moving to a relief role, Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Justin Meis found success with Double-A Altoona in 2023

With the first pick in the 10th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected a local product. With this pick, the Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Justin Meis. Meis was drafted out of Eastern Michigan University and is a product of Bethel Park High School.

Meis spent the entire 2023 season with the Double-A Altoona Curve. This was the first time in his professional career that Meis reached the Double-A level. On the surface, it appeared that things did not go well for Meis. However, it was a tale of two seasons.

With the Curve, Meis pitched in 29 games with 10 being starts. Across these 29 games Meis pitched 83.0 innings, posting a 4.55 ERA and a 5.34 FIP. He walked batters at a 12.7% clip, struck out 20.9% of opposing batters, and allowed 13 home runs (1.41 HR/9).

Meis started for the Curve in his first 6 appearances of the season. After posting a 6.86 ERA and a 5.70 FIP in these 6 starts, Meis moved to a relief role with the Curve. This was a move that would benefit Meis.

Meis pitched 62.0 innings in his final 23 appearances of the season, with only 4 of these 23 appearances being starts. In these 62.0 innings pitched Meis posted a 3.77 ERA, 12.3% walk rate, and a 23.0% strikeout rate. He allowed 10 home runs (1.45 HR/9) and limited opposing batters to a .216 batting average.

In the 4 starts Meis made after coming out of the rotation, he pitched 4 innings twice, 3.0 innings once, and 3.1 innings once. So, Meis was not being used as a true starter but instead as an opener/piggyback arm.

The success Meis found after moving out of a full-time starting pitcher role makes it clear where his long-term home should be. Moving forward, Meis should be pitching in relief in the Pirate farm system. If he starts, it should only be as an opener/piggyback arm.

When the 2024 season begins Meis will likely be back with Double-A Altoona. This time, however, it should be in a relief role. If Meis pitches well, the 24-year-old should then find himself in the bullpen at Triple-A Indianapolis before the season ends. He could then put himself in a position to enter the 2025 season close to he majors.

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