Get to Know Pittsburgh Pirates Outfielder Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows

JUL 2013: 2013 first round pick Austin Meadows of the Pirates in action during the Gulf Coast League game between the GCL Pirates and the GCL Tigers at Tigertown in Lakeland, Florida. (photo credit – Baseball America)

We all know the Pittsburgh Pirates starting outfield, Gregory Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, and Starling Marte, in part because they are so good and in part because they have been the subject of so many contract rumors, trade rumors, and now position shifts in the last few years. McCutchen is also one of Off the Bench’s 5 players to watch this spring.

But there’s a new name to know: Austin Meadows.

Meadows has reportedly made a good impression on the Pirates this spring and is set to see more playing time between now and Opening Day and will start the season in Indianapolis, at the top of the minor leagues. Coming into last season, he was ranked right around the 20th best prospect in all of baseball and last season the 21 year old made it as high as AAA. This year, some have him as the best prospect in the whole Pirates system and the 6th best in the sport.

In 2016, the centerfielder hit .266 with 11 homers and 17 steals in 87 games across three levels, including .214 with 6 bombs in AAA after tearing up AA. All this despite suffering an orbital bone break in spring training that cost him some time on the DL and usually hinders hitters for a while after they return.

It wasn’t Meadows’ first injury. He missed the start of the 2014 season with a hamstring injury, so staying healthy in 2017 will be just as important as continuing his development.

By starting the season in AAA, Meadows hopes to prove that he’s ready to step into the outfield in the big leagues should, for instance, McCutchen suddenly start playing for another team. However, with McCutchen’s recent switch to right field and Marte now laying claim to center, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Meadows start taking some reps in the corner outfield spots this season.

Meadows was drafted 9th overall by the Pirates in 2013 out of Grayson High School in Georgia. He played exceptionally well his first three years in the minors at ages 18-20, batting over .310 each season in the low minors and earning himself all sorts of buzz as a prospect. Now set to play 2017 at age 22, it’s easy to blame last season’s dip in performance on injury, and probably appropriate to so too. The Pirates are expecting big things from Meadows this season and I think he’ll come up big.

Austin Meadows’ is definitely a name to know.

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