Prospect Meyer among first spring roster cuts

Blackburn, Augenstein, Oliveros and Vasquez also sent to Minors camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins made their first roster cuts of Spring Training on Sunday, as they reassigned right-handed pitchers Bryan Augenstein, Nick Blackburn, Alex Meyer, Lester Oliveros and Esmerling Vasquez to Minor League camp.

Minnesota is expected to cut about six more Monday, according to general manager Terry Ryan. The club has 62 players in camp: 30 pitchers (eight non-roster), nine catchers (four non-roster), 13 infielders (six non-roster) and 10 outfielders (four non-roster).

Blackburn, who underwent right wrist surgery in January, and Oliveros, who had Tommy John surgery in August, are out with injuries. Blackburn is rehabbing his injury and isn't expected to be ready for the start of the season, while Oliveros is out until July.

Meyer, who was acquired in the trade that sent Denard Span to the Nationals, was the most impressive pitcher of the group before being reassigned. Meyer, ranked as the No. 40 overall prospect by, tossed five scoreless innings in Grapefruit League play, with three strikeouts and two walks.

Meyer, 23, is expected to start the season at Double-A New Britain after posting a combined 2.86 ERA with 139 strikeouts and 45 walks in 129 innings split between Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac last season.

"We need to stretch him out," Ryan said. "He has to develop his changeup. He's a legitimate starting pitcher and we need to make sure his three-pitch mix -- which he has -- is polished up. I don't think anybody here was displeased with anything he did here and not only physically, but mentally. He's a good teammate, he's coachable, he's attentive."

Vasquez, who had a 5.68 ERA in six starts with the Twins last season, had a 6.75 ERA in 2 2/3 innings in Spring Training. He's not on the 40-man roster and is expected to start at Triple-A Rochester.

Augenstein, meanwhile, made only one spring appearance. The non-roster invitee, who pitched for Tampa Bay's Triple-A affiliate last season, gave up a run in one inning against the Pirates on Feb. 25.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.