Baseball America posted their best tools from the Florida State League and two players from Bradenton were recognized for their skills. Austin Meadows was named for the best strike zone judgement, while Reese McGuire picked up the best defensive catcher honors. The voting was done by managers and coaches in the FSL.

Meadows was hitting lead-off to begin this year to make up for the at-bats he lost last year due to his hamstring injury. He has been hitting second more often recently and had much more success in that role. He has 38 walks and 64 strikeouts this season, to go along with a .766 OPS that ranks him sixth in the FSL. Meadows is eighth in on base percentage and he leads the league with 130 hits.

This is the second year in a row that McGuire has been named the best defensive catcher in his league. He was the best as a 19-year-old in the South Atlantic League last year and moving up a level, his defense has remained top notch. McGuire has thrown out 28% of base runners, allowed five passed balls and each of the last two seasons, he’s posted a .987 fielding percentage. It’s his quickness behind the plate and ability to work with pitchers that gets him recognized.

McGuire has always been advanced behind the plate for his age, but it’s his bat that could hold him back. He will make the majors someday based on defense alone, but his upside could range from being a Chris Stewart-type, to a perennial All-Star. McGuire makes consistent contact and hits his share of line drives now, he just doesn’t hit for any power and has trouble against left-handed pitchers. Just like Meadows, McGuire is one of the youngest players in the league.

In the past, Baseball America has released both the High-A and Low-A tools articles on the same day. If the Low-A is posted today, we will update this article.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. John, was there ever any more light shed on whatever was going on with McGuire that landed him on the bench a couple times? Is there any kind of concern over the character stuff internally, or was it just a couple isolated incidents? From what I’ve read he’s great kid with no previously known character questions, so hopefully it’s a non-issue.

    • The first time he didn’t run out a play. The second they wouldn’t talk about it, but said they don’t think it will happen again making it sound like it was hustle related again, but that was just the feel we got, so it could be something else.

  2. John you mentioned at the end as a possibility, but how likely is it that Reese stays back in Bradenton next year and someone like De-jing (sp) moves up to Altoona?

    • It’s possible, but when I said hold him back, I was talking more about his upside, not returning to Bradenton. Jhang is a better hitter right now and older, so I could see it happening if they think McGuire won’t be able to handle AA pitching. Defensively, he’s been ready for that level

      • I’m curious as to why (not being privy) that either one was not used as a trade chip. It appears that we have a log jam behind the plate as it relates to prospects, but maybe no one wanted a catching prospect? Again not knowing if they tried to move one during the trading period.

        • I don’t think the Pirates want to move any of their top prospects. Jones and Sampson were outside the top ten, so they weren’t possible key pieces down the line. They might be solid regulars, but not superstars

    • The unfortunate thing is that none of this Top 10 (5?) system is ready to help at the MLB level, esp pitching, because of those two factors.

      • Well, they would be if weren’t for a unfortunate string of injuries. Really is a shame Jameson Taillon isn’t in the middle of his first full season in the majors after being called up last June or that Kingham and Cumpton aren’t depth options right now.

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