Justin Meis: Heavy Fastball Usage Leads Three-Pitch Mix

The Pittsburgh Pirates have made a flurry of moves among their minor league teams during the beginning of June. With the Florida Complex League season starting, they have started to move players around the system to create opportunities for others, or to reward play so far this year.

On player that recently got promoted was 2021 10th round pick Justin Meis, who moves up from Bradenton to Greensboro.

A Bethel Park, Pennsylvania native, Meis was assigned to the Marauders last year after being drafted, and pitched 10 times out of the bullpen, posting a 2.04 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings.

This year he has been utilized mainly as a starter, making seven starts among 10 total appearances. Two of the three games he’s come out the bullpen he was pitching behind two players on rehab stints — Sam Howard and Duane Underwood Jr. The third was a game he came in relief after his previous start lasted only two-thirds of an inning.

Meis has seen mixed success this year but has remained one of the more consistent members of the Marauders rotation. In 41 innings pitched this year, the righty has posted a 3.51 ERA with 42 strikeouts and has held opponents to an .250 average.


Velocity 92.96-mph
Spin Rate 2450.5-rpm
Vertical Break 14.77-inches
Horizontal Break 9.56-inches
Usage 53.87%
Whiff% 21.08%

If you like spin rate, there are several players in the Pirates system that is worth monitoring, and when it comes to the fastball Meis is one of them. The spin rate on his fastball nearly matches Cody Bolton’s, who I talked about earlier this week.

He’s dialed the pitch up to 95-mph at times this year as a starter and shows decent movement on the pitch. The whiff rate isn’t bad either for how often he throws the pitch, and would rank 154th in the majors right now among other fastballs.


Velocity 80.19-mph
Spin Rate 2685.6-rpm
Vertical Break 47.19-inches
Horizontal Break 10.45-inches
Usage 31.48%
Whiff% 25.97%

This is Meis’ best pitch, and again, should catch attention of any spin rate aficionados. The spin on his slider is nearly identical to Bolton’s, which again aligns it as one of the tops of its kind in the majors.

If there is any one complaint you can have on the pitch is that you would hope to see it miss more bats for how advanced of a pitcher, he is but does get a good amount called strikes. Of the 187 sliders he threw in Bradenton, 35% of them were either called strikes or swing and misses.

What really makes the slider good is the vertical break on it. The 47.19-inches vertical break the pitch gets would make it a top-10 slider in the majors when it comes to movement.


Velocity 87.16-mph
Spin Rate 1772.4-rpm
Vertical Break 24.94-inches
Horizontal Break 11.50-inches
Usage 14.65%
Whiff% 23.4%

There are times when this pitch shows enough promise that it can be a serviceable offering. For it being his clear third pitch when it comes to usage, he does have a good whiff rate with it.

In fact, it seems like he is getting more swings on the pitch as of late, with two of the last three outings have the highest whiff rate he’s had with the off-speed this season.

It’s a pitch that he’s been able to use effectively at times, but still mostly in development now. It’s something that he could easily scrap if they decided to move him back into the bullpen full-time again.

Final Look

Meis is an interesting prospect in the system and will someone to watch how he handles Greensboro. One thing to watch with it is his fly ball rate. It’s up over 11% from a year ago, sitting at 37.9%, a number that could lead to some issues pitching in Greensboro.

If he can get back to last year’s numbers, and improve the consistency on his change-up, it might help settle some of the rotation issues Greensboro has had this year.

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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Looking at his breaking pitches I see two or a variable slurve. One mostly breaks vertically. One mostly breaks horizontally. Both have curve speed. I’d appreciate feedback.




Love these articles BTW.


Good breakdown of his stuff. Definitely like the fastball and slider a lot. The change up probably needs to be thrown more to get advanced hitters off the fastball. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be enough separation in speed between the fastball and change for him to have a truly dominant 3-pitch mix.

At this point in time he looks more like a bullpen arm than a SP. Which is okay for me.


I was thinking the same thing regarding the lack of separation between FB and CH, which reminds me of keller as his attempt of a changeup needs to be much slower to have a chance at working.


Good point. To me it looks like he throws a two-steamer and a four-steamer.

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