Austin Meadows progressed well in the short time he has had in Low-A West Virginia.
A week before Spring Training, Meadows hurt his hamstring while working on his base running. Coupled with a setback to the injury in May, this injury caused Meadows to miss the first three months of the season. With the influx of outfield talent in the Pirates system, the organization took the opportunity to be patient with Meadows, and allow his injury to heal completely. He was appreciative that the Pirates never rushed him to get back onto the field.
“I’m just glad they were really patient about it, rather than coming back too soon and possibly tear it again or something like that,” Meadows said, regarding his injury. “Even though it happened a second time when I was rehabbing. I’m glad they were patient with it, and I’m here now.”
Meadows had a good season in his limited time in West Virginia, posting a slash line of .322/.388/.522 in only 165 plate appearances and showed glimpses of his power potential during his shortened campaign, compiling 19 extra base hits (16 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs). At 6’3’’, 200 pounds, he is a big, athletic player who should hit for more power as he continues to get stronger and more experienced.
Meadows’ showed solid plate discipline skills, with 14 walks, and a 19% strikeout rate. West Virginia Manager Michael Ryan was impressed with his advanced approach at the plate at such a young age.
“His patience at the plate, his hitting approach, is beyond his years,” Ryan said. “It’s not a Low-A approach. One at-bat he’ll go up and sit off-speed, the next one he’ll turn on a fastball. The next time he’ll draw a walk. Just the way he sees the ball is better than what other guys do here.”
According to Ryan, sometimes Meadows can be too patient, taking pitches “right down the middle almost” at times. Ryan wants Meadows to continue to work on his aggressiveness at the plate, and that will lead to even more success.
Meadows realizes the importance of not falling behind in counts, and not taking too many hittable pitches.
“A lot of these pitchers have a lot of good off-speed stuff to get you out, with pitches in the dirt or where ever it is. So I just [need] to be aggressive.”
Defensively, Meadows has performed well in center field, according to Ryan. Ryan believes that Meadows can stick in center field going forward despite his size, because of his athletic ability.
“He can play center, no question,” Ryan said. “He covers a lot of ground; he runs very well for a guy his size. What I was mostly surprised with was how well he could run. If the organization decides to move him to a corner outfield spot, he’ll be just as good there. I think knowing how to play all three is just going to be a bonus for him. [But] he can play center, and he does it pretty well.”
The Pirates might not need him in center field in the long-term, since their system has a lot of center field options, including three currently in the majors.
Now that the West Virginia season is concluded, the plan for Meadows is to head to the Instructional League and continue to get more at bats.
“Just getting out there and getting as many at bats as I can, especially this year facing a lot of adversity with the hamstring injury and not really getting a lot of at bats. Play as many games as I can in instructs and finish this year off strong and start off next year fresh.”