Austin Meadows and Harold Ramirez Will Start in Bradenton This Year

One of the big questions surrounding the lower level roster makeup has been the lower level outfield crunch. Specifically, there was a question as to whether Austin Meadows would move up to Bradenton, or would return to West Virginia to get more time at the level after missing half of the 2014 season. The same scenario surrounds Harold Ramirez, who also missed half of the 2014 season in West Virginia.

The Pirates have held guys in similar situations back in previous years. The most recent case was with Josh Bell, who missed most of the 2012 season, then returned to West Virginia in 2013. I asked last week whether Meadows would make it to Bradenton, and Pirates’ Farm Director Larry Broadway said that he had a chance to move up. In that same link I talked about how Meadows has lowered his hand position to shorten his swing and try to hit for more power.

Today I was told that both Meadows and Ramirez would be starting the year in Bradenton. This news largely clears up the lower level outfield situation. Meadows and Ramirez will both be starters, and will most likely be joined by Barrett Barnes. Last week I reported that Reese McGuire and Luis Heredia would also start the year in Bradenton. That is going to set the Marauders up to be one of the best teams to watch this year from a prospect standpoint. The current lineup looks like this:

C – Reese McGuire

1B – Jose Osuna

2B – Erich Weiss

SS – JaCoby Jones

3B – Wyatt Mathisen

OF – Harold Ramirez

OF – Austin Meadows

OF – Barrett Barnes

DH – Jin-De Jhang

Jhang will most likely get time behind the plate as well, although McGuire will get the bulk of the work. I’m not sure where the Pirates will have the outfielders playing specifically, but I’m guessing Meadows will be in center field, with Ramirez and Barnes at the corners.

As for the rotation, that is also shaping up well, with Heredia, Steven Brault, Cody Dickson, Tyler Eppler, and Clay Holmes looking like the starting five. Holmes will begin the year in extended Spring Training as he returns from Tommy John surgery. 2014 13th round pick Frank Duncan could take his place in the rotation until he returns.

With Meadows and Ramirez moving up, this creates opportunity in the West Virginia outfield. I learned today that Tito Polo will be getting a push to West Virginia, making an aggressive jump from the GCL. Polo has looked impressive in batting practice, showing an ability to drive the ball to all fields. He was also one of the standouts on offense last year in the GCL, and looks like an early breakout candidate. He will be joined by 2014 third round pick Jordan Luplow. The top contenders for the final outfield spot will be Michael Suchy and Elvis Escobar. Kevin Krause could also factor in to the mix, when he’s not getting time behind the plate.

  • If Polanco works out this year, the aggressive push for Meadows could up his stock being in High-A. Not that I think they should trade him, but there is always the possibility.

  • Steel City Scotty
    March 11, 2015 10:33 am

    Wow, that’s an impressive line-up. Nearly every player listed is widely considered to be one of the organization’s top 20-25 prospects.

    • Steel City Scotty
      March 11, 2015 10:36 am

      I realize the analysts on this site (who I trust more than most) don’t think Mathisen, Barnes and Jhang are “Top 20” material, but I’ve seen them ranked in the teens on other lists.

  • If that team stays healthy, they could be pretty good….
    If the above roster is accurate, where does that leave Espinal? I thought Osuma would be in Altoona in 2015, and Espinal in Bradenton?

  • Zachary Chakan
    March 11, 2015 2:43 am

    I’d be disappointed if Osuna stays down with Bradenton this year. It would be his third year in the league and he really produced in the second half in 2014. I know Bell is transitioning to 1B and will get the primary reps there and Osuna is still pretty young despite returning to high-A for a third season. But Osuna seemed like a prime candidate to get 1B/OF/DH ABs. This could also mean that Allie is ticketed to return to Altoona although 1B appears to be open in Indianapolis if Lambo makes the team.

  • Interesting that Meadows gets the aggressive push, considering there is no need to rush him but clearly they think he can handle it.

    • Ben: It is somewhat aggressive due to the time spent in Lo A, but his numbers for the small amount of time in Lo A were very good. He and Reese McGuire will play 2015 in their age 20 seasons, and I think the Pirates are trying to keep them together. The kid who really is the aggressive push, IMO, is Tyler Eppler, 6th Rounder in 2014, who is skipping Lo A. Although he pitched at Sam Houston St, and is in his age 22 season, this is still very aggressive for the Pirates. I will be following the Bradenton Rotation – lots of intrigue.

      Tim: You could not have hand-picked it any better, and watching the Marauders will be a treat in 2015.

    • If for some reason they need to delay a year in Meadows’ development process having him spend a year and a half or two years in AAA at the end of the process will be more likely to help him in MLB than spending an additional six months to a year in lo A this year.

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