The Pittsburgh Pirates have a fantastic OF prospect in their system in Austin Meadows. Now, he has been named the 3rd best OF prospect overall.
MLBPipeline.com has released their rankings for the top prospects at every position this offseason and the Pittsburgh Pirates received some good – but probably not unexpected – accolades when it was announced that Austin Meadows was ranked the third best outfield prospect heading into next season.
Meadows, who was ranked fourth in the same list last year, was behind top prospect Andrew Benintendi from the Boston Red Sox and Victor Robles of the Washington Nationals. Fans may remember that Robles was one of the names thrown around in a rumored deal that would have sent Andrew McCutchen to the nation’s capital.
Triple-A At An Early Age
As the MLBPipeline.com description of Meadows states, he advanced to Triple-A Iast year at the age of 21, quicker than most players his age. He has had to deal with multiple injuries, so one can only imagine where Meadows would be right now if he was healthy for all of 2016.
Across three levels of the minor league system last year, Meadows slashed .266/.333/.536, good for an OPS of .869. He slugged six home runs each with Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, and it was noted in the summary of Meadows that the power started to appear a little more for Meadows in 2016. It would not be crazy to think that Meadows could be a 20-25 HR outfielder as he enters his prime.
Also Good Defensively
Defensively, Meadows is considered to have a below average arm, so once he arrives in Pittsburgh the team will have to make a decision as to which outfield position he’ll occupy. With rumors that Starling Marte will shift over to center field in 2017, Meadows could easily slot into a corner spot when he arrives.
While Meadows is considered to have an ETA of 2017, there are a few points that fans should consider. The Pittsburgh Pirates have traditionally been very conservative with promoting their prospects, so barring an injury to one of the starters, it’s hard to see him being promoted until the team is absolutely sure he is ready to come up and stay up.
The second wrinkle in the situation with Meadows is that there is currently no space for him in Pittsburgh. The Pirates did try to move McCutchen this winter, but could not work out a deal with another club. McCutchen’s performance will greatly affect the timing of a promotion for Meadows. If McCutchen is playing well and the team is contending, Meadows may find himself in Indianapolis longer than expected.
However, a quick start out of the gate by Meadows could ultimately force the hand of the Pirates. He is a top prospect for a reason, and if he is firing on all cylinders the team might have to make a decision sooner rather than later. This is the kind of problem that every team wishes they had.
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