Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top Prospects: #3 – Austin Meadows

The Pirates Prospects 2015 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2015 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Luis Heredia, RHP
19. JaCoby Jones, SS
18. Willy Garcia, OF
17. Clay Holmes, RHP
16. Gage Hinsz, RHP
15. Trey Supak, RHP
14. Cody Dickson, LHP
13. John Holdzkom, RHP
12. Adrian Sampson, RHP
11. Harold Ramirez, OF
10. Elias Diaz, C
9. Cole Tucker, SS
8. Mitch Keller, RHP
7. Alen Hanson, 2B
6. Nick Kingham, RHP
5. Reese McGuire, C
4. Josh Bell, 1B

We continue the countdown with the number 3 prospect, Austin Meadows.

3. Austin Meadows, OF

Austin Meadows was sidelined for half a season with hamstring issues, but showed off some strong hitting in West Virginia when he returned.
Austin Meadows was sidelined for half a season with hamstring issues, but showed off some strong hitting in West Virginia when he returned.

There is no urgent need for outfield talent in Pittsburgh, due to the trio of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco under control through at least the 2018 season. Meadows has the upside to one day be a star outfielder, but the Pirates can afford to take their time with him.

The 2014 season was supposed to be a chance for Meadows to break out as one of the top prospects in the game. Instead, he missed over half the minor league season with multiple hamstring injuries. The first came in Spring Training, forcing him to miss almost the entire Spring. He was set to go to West Virginia at the end of April, but injured the hamstring in a different spot during his rehab work. The second injury delayed his return, and he didn’t reach West Virginia until the second week of July.

Once Meadows arrived, he started to show off what makes him a top prospect. He hit for average, got on base, and hit for power. The strikeouts weren’t great, but were better than his debut in the GCL. There is still more power that can come from his game, but he’s off to a good start for a 19- year-old.

Meadows drew comparisons to Jay Bruce on draft day due to his power potential. He has a smooth and easy swing, with the ability to hit for average, along with above average power in the majors. He has the range to play center field, but his lack of arm strength should move him to a corner spot eventually.

The Pirates usually like to send prep players to West Virginia for a full season before promoting them up the ranks. Meadows could return to West Virginia for all of 2015, just to get experience at the level and experience playing all year. The Pirates did the same thing with Josh Bell in 2013, after he missed most of the 2012 season with a knee injury. The difference here is that Meadows had a much better debut than Bell. The Pirates can take their time with Meadows, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him back at West Virginia for at least the start of the 2015 season. In the long-term, he’s got the upside to eventually successfully replace one of the current outfielders in the majors.

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  • I think he ends 2015 as a top 20 prospect or higher. Based on the abs he got I think last year was a VERY good season. 7 months younger than Frazier and easily tipped him in wrc+ as well as ISO and struck out less than 19 percent of time while Frazier was pushing 30. His swing is a thing of beauty. I actually think he may be best prospect in our system ahead of glasnow and jt

    • I’d love to see him moved to 3b. We’ve got plenty of OF prospects, he’d be a perfect bat at 3b for years to come and athletic enough to transition.

      • Isn’t the scouting report on Meadows’ defense is that he runs well, but has an average arm? If so 3B may not be a good fit. But what about Willy Garcia for the same scenario? Willie’s power bat could profile well at 3B, as long as he can learn a little self control and improve his SS/BB ratio. He also has a cannon for an arm which fits well at 3B too.

  • Where do you think Yoan Moncada will rank once the Bucs sign him?

    • He’d be at least the third, maybe second best SS in the system, right? 😉

      • With $$ it will take to sign him, shouldn’t he be the #1 rated SS? I know little about him, but I would think 4th. Maybe 5th.

        • Sorry, that was my insufferable sarcasm coming out.

          Moncada would easily be the best SS in the Pirates system and best prospect overall if you prefer hitters to pitchers(Glasnow if the opposite).

  • The rays are often used as a comparison for the pirates by many including myself, as far as pitching prospects go this is fairly true. I will say though that the pirates have prospects at a quite a few more position than I remember the rays having, outfield being one of them. Yes the rays have or have had some nice prospects in the field that turned into good major leaguers, the difference is they traded pitching for them, the pirates are growing most of their talent through the draft.

  • He’s got the best looking swing in the organization. Hope he stays healthy and continues to mature physically. If so, he could be a franchise player with the God-given talent he has.

  • Can a player who hasn’t established himself at Low A really be the number 3 Pirate prospect?

  • There will be much weeping and wailing when one of the current OF is traded to make room for him. But the haul for Cutch or Marte should be enough to keep the team competitive for years.

    • It will be hard to justify trading McCutchen during the 2018 season if they are contenders. If they trade McCutchen before his contract runs out it will because something has gone very bad and they have become very desperate.

      • I have to agree, I feel like if the Pirates are going to trade him, it would be during the 2017 season after extension talks didn’t work out (assuming the Pirates would be able to offer a reasonably fair price for an extension but Cutch is interested in testing free agency). A year and a half of Cutch could bring back a good return (as in a MLB ready player + a good prospect or two) whereas a rental Cutch would probably only get a couple prospects which would be very hard to justify if the Pirates are contending for the division as you point out.
        .
        Bummer to think that we only have 2 to 4 more seasons of Cutch. I better get out to a few more games this year.

    • Extremely uncertain that Meadows becomes one of the 20 best OFs in baseball.

    • I say we should trade cutch with 1 (possibly 2) years left in his contract to rebuild our system. I would love to get 3 grade A prospects in return from him and maybe even a 4th. I don’t see why we wouldn’t because we have Meadows that could be ready by the time his contract is up and I am hoping we can re-sign Marte and Polanco. We have the only outfield in baseball that is possible that anyone of them could break out and have MVP potential, Marte and McCutchen already have one (Marte’s was in AA)

      • I love Cutch as much as the next guy,but I totally agree. At that point you probably could trade for the next prospect to replace Marte if he ever commands the money Cutch will. But if you had to, I imagine you could get 7 pretty good players for the 2 of them. I would hate to see either of them leave, but its unrealistic to think we could afford both and not risk the future.

        • Yes, I would hate to see them leave to but it is for the benefit of the team and we need to keep this organization a winning won for the future, I would be fine if we traded Cutch as long as we got some pretty good prospects back.

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