Pittsburgh Pirates: Getting to know Austin Meadows

The Pirates are recalling their top hitting prospect, but just who is Austin Meadows?

(Photo Credit: Davey Nin)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have placed outfielder Starling Marte on the disabled list with a strained oblique and, according to Bill Brink of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, will promote top prospect Austin Meadows from Triple-A Indianapolis as a corresponding move. Meadows was selected by the Pirates with the ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft and should prove an exciting watch while filling in for Marte.

But just who is Austin Meadows? Though he ranks as the No. 2 overall prospect in the Pirates organization, the lefty has flown under the radar while other prospects in Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. and New York’s Gleyber Torres rule the roost. The hype surrounding him is real despite that and if Meadows can immediately perform at a high level at PNC Park, then Pirates fans could have even more to be excited for as they maintain pace in a tight NL Central.

Meadows’ road to MLB

Meadows grew up in Loganville, Georgia, not far from downtown Atlanta. His high school teammate was none other than New York Yankees outfield prospect Clint Frazier, who was taken four picks ahead of him by the Cleveland Indians in the 2013 draft. Though he hasn’t received as much time in the spotlight as his high school teammate, Meadows is still worth noticing even though his minor league career has not yielded eye-popping results.

Meadows has posted a career slash line of .292/.357/.454 in six minor league seasons and was hitting .294 with one home run, 15 RBI, and eight stolen bases at Triple-A this year. He is primarily a contact hitter, though he did hit 12 home runs in 87 games across three levels in 2016. His power potential is there but has yet to materialize.

It’s also worth noting that a big reason fans may not be familiar with Meadows is something every young player hopes to avoid early on: injuries. Meadows only played in 87 games in 2016 and 81 games in 2017 due to oblique and hamstring injuries, plus an orbital fracture that cost him time in 2016. Thankfully, Meadows has looked healthy as a horse in 2018 and his injury issues appear to be behind him.

What to expect?

Now, though Meadows may seem like a mirror image of Clint Frazier in that he's a speedy outfielder whose only difference is that he's a left-handed hitter, that statement could not be further from the truth. Where Frazier's greatest strength at the plate is his bat speed and an uncanny ability to drive the ball, Meadows is more of a contact hitter as his minor league numbers show.

Meadows is also not a pull hitter at all. For example, in 131 plate appearances at Triple-A this year, only 35.3% of his batted balls were pulled compared to 38.2% hit to the opposite field. At the same level last year, only 34.6% of Meadows' batted balls were pulled compared to 43% hit to left field. In an era where more players are focusing on hard contact and launch angle, to see contact hitters in this mold still exist is refreshing.

It can thus be assumed that while filling in for the injured Marte, be it for just ten days or even beyond, the Pittsburgh fans can expect Meadows to be a Grady Sizemore-like player in that he will focus more on extra-base hits and stealing bases compared to Frazier, who enters each at bat looking to drive the ball as far as humanly possible.

Make no mistake, baseball fans. Austin Meadows could wind up being the Pirates' best outfield prospect since former MVP Andrew McCutchen. If he impresses in his debut weekend, that possibility could become a reality.

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Josh Benjamin


Josh Benjamin is a born and bred New Yorker and an absolute baseball fanatic. He has witnessed four no-hitters at Yankee Stadium, three of which were memorable. Josh can be seen by the basketball court when baseball is not in session, though his love for the diamond will always be his first. He is incredibly excited to be part of the RealSport team!