Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #4 – Austin Meadows

The Pirates Prospects 2014 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2014 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. Michael De La Cruz, OF
19. JaCoby Jones, OF
18. Barrett Barnes, OF
17. Cody Dickson, LHP
16. Blake Taylor, LHP
15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP
14. Andrew Lambo, OF
13. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
12. Clay Holmes, RHP
11. Tony Sanchez, C
10. Harold Ramirez, OF
9. Luis Heredia, RHP
8. Josh Bell, OF
7. Reese McGuire, C
6. Nick Kingham, RHP
5. Alen Hanson, SS

We continue the countdown with the number 4 prospect, Austin Meadows.

Austin Meadows showed some impressive power in his pro debut.

Austin Meadows showed some impressive power in his pro debut.

4. Austin Meadows, OF

The Pirates failed to sign first round pick Mark Appel in the 2012 draft, giving them a compensation pick in 2013. They used that pick to take top prep hitter Austin Meadows, who was drawing Jay Bruce comparisons on draft day due to his power potential. Meadows signed quickly after graduating from high school, and it didn’t take long for him to give a glimpse of his potential in the lower levels.

The outfielder started his career in the GCL, which is one of the most pitcher friendly leagues in the minors. Despite the advantage for pitchers, Meadows crushed at the level, displaying some impressive power in the process that had scouts repeating the Jay Bruce comparisons. By the end of the season, Meadows was promoted to Jamestown, where he recorded a hit in all eight of his games, along with three home runs when including the playoffs.

Meadows has a smooth and easy swing, hits for average, and projects for above average power in the majors one day. He’s got the range for center field, but has a fringy arm which projects him to move off the position in the future. That won’t be a problem for the Pirates, since they are loaded with talented center fielders.

The one downside to Meadows’ debut in 2013 was that he struggled with his strike zone discipline, especially against tough breaking pitches. The reports on his plate patience were good coming out of the draft, so it’s possible that this was just an issue where Meadows was getting used to pitching that he didn’t see often in high school. If the recognition issues continue against breaking pitches, that could make it hard for Meadows to continue to hit for average in the upper levels.

The Pirates usually send top prep hitters like Meadows to West Virginia during their first full season, and he should be no exception. Most prep players in the Pirates system spend a full season in West Virginia, so expect Meadows to remain at the level during the entire 2014 season. If all goes well, he could split between Bradenton/Altoona in 2015, and Indianapolis/Pittsburgh in 2016, making the majors at the young age of 21. If Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco are playing well, then the Pirates could slow Meadows’ development, holding him back as an eventual replacement if McCutchen leaves via free agency.

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Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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