“So we get to do this for a second time this year.”
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington introduced 8th overall draft pick Austin Meadows to the Pittsburgh media Friday. The team announced the signing of Meadows, who agreed to a full-slot-value $3,029,600 signing bonus according to Baseball America’s Jim Callis, 10 days after the signing of fellow first-rounder Reese McGuire for under slot value.
“Organizationally, It’s a great opportunity for us to celebrate another good day,” Huntington said, calling the team’s success “sustainable not only for this point going forward but as we get guys like Austin to the Big Leagues, put ourselves in a position to play meaningful games in September, playoff games in October as many times as we can for as many years as possible.”
Huntington noted that the team is doing well at the Major League level (tied for MLB’s best record), the draft (those two first-round picks and others) and player development (with at least one longtime scout calling the Pirates’ farm system the best in baseball).
Does Huntington think the Pirates have the best stable of prospects in the league?
“We’re always going to think we have the best farm system in baseball,” Huntington said. “That’s not for us to judge.”
As possibilities to be among the Top 100 prospects in baseball, Meadows and McGuire join position players Gregory Polanco, Dilson Herrera, Josh Bell and Alen Hanson, plus pitchers Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham and Luis Heredia.
Meadows in a Pirates Uniform, Again
For Meadows’ part, he said he was excited to start playing every day. And while he wants to be patient, he is already thinking about his possibilities as a left-handed power hitter at PNC Park.
“I want to put it in the river,” Meadows said. “That would be pretty cool.”
Thoughts from his new general manager?
“He can hit as many in the river as he wants as long as he hits a lot of other ones hard too,” Huntington said.
Meadows, 18, added it was “overwhelming” to put on a Pirates uniform, a moment that touched his mom Staci, a former college softball shortstop in Georgia. The Pirates tout Meadows as having the “Best Strike Zone Judgment” among high school prospects by Baseball America, which would often drive Mom nuts.
“I would be at his games going, why does he have another full count?” Staci Meadows said, but added that father Kenny did the coaching. “He is one of the hardest workers I know. He is extremely coachable.”
Staci also shared the photo you see on the right of Austin during his first go-around with the Pirates.
Meadows will join the Gulf Coast League Pirates in rookie ball, traveling to Bradenton on Sunday. Both McGuire and Meadows have a chance to play a short season in the same year as their drafting.
“One of the benefits of the new system is getting guys out and playing,” Huntington said. “I cannot imagine being 18 or 21 and being dropped in to a 144-game season with one or two days off per month. That’s just unfair to the players.”
Huntington called the earlier signing deadline (implemented last year) for draft picks “was one of the few things” the players’ union and MLB could agree upon.
- Injured starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez (left forearm tightness) and A.J. Burnett (right calf strain) are expected to throw bullpen sessions Saturday.
- Josh Harrison will be in the Pirates dugout for Friday night’s game against the Brewers, saying he will “try to do what I can.” He has been mainly playing second base and shortstop for Indianapolis. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he can use Harrison’s ”versatility” and the ability to face two left-handed starters in next week’s series against the Phillies.
- Two pitchers who can throw 100 miles per hour take the mound Friday night at PNC Park: Milwaukee’s Johnny Hellweg and Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Hellweg, “We need one of our young guys to really step it up, and I think he’s the guy who can do it.” Roenicke also called Cole an exciting pitcher: “I’ll be interested to see how hard, and whether he can locate, his stuff.”