The Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted Austin Meadows to Altoona for the last six days of the season, plus a likely trip to the playoffs for the Curve. He agent tweeted the promotion this morning. We found out yesterday that Meadows will be part of the group of Pirates’ players going to the AFL in October. He leaves the FSL with a .307/.357/.407 slash line in 121 games. Meadows leads the FSL with 156 hits and he is second with 72 runs scored.
There are more moves expected today, as Altoona will be sending players to Indianapolis to cover their empty roster spots after the September call-ups. Check back for any updates on the roster shuffles.
— Victor Menocal (@victormenocal) September 2, 2015
UPDATE 12:04 PM: Pirates Prospects has learned that right-handed pitchers Tyler Eppler and Montana DuRapau have also been promoted to Altoona. Analysis to follow on all three moves. – Tim Williams
UPDATE 12:09 PM: Meadows was having a great season in Bradenton this year, posting a .307/.357/.407 line in 508 at-bats. The power was down for most of the year, but that is primarily due to the fact that the Florida State League suppresses power. The league average ISO was .089, so the .100 mark from Meadows is above-average. He got better as the year went on, with a .338/.366/.450 line in the second half, and a .319/.333/.440 line in August.
Meadows has a short, quick swing and drives the ball to the gaps. He’s got a lot of raw power, but at this stage in his career that is only showing up as line drive power. He added some muscle to his frame prior to the season, and could continue adding strength going forward, which could lead to more home runs. He’s got the range to play center field, but doesn’t have the best arm strength in the system, and profiles best as a left fielder in PNC Park one day.
I wrote about Eppler earlier this month, noting that he’s in a special group of early round college starters who skipped over West Virginia. The other guys in that group were Justin Wilson, Adrian Sampson, and Chad Kuhl. The Pirates are obviously high on Eppler, and for good reason. He sits 92-94 MPH with his fastball, and can touch as high as 96-97. He’s got a big frame at 6′ 6″, 220 pounds, and put up outstanding numbers in Bradenton this year, with a 2.58 ERA and a 46:14 K/BB ratio in 66.1 innings. That included an amazing month of August where he had an 0.85 ERA in 31.2 innings, with a 20:6 K/BB ratio.
As I noted earlier in the month, Eppler found a lot of success after a relief appearance in July. That changed his mindset heading into starts, where he started carrying over the mentality of protecting a small lead from the start of each game. It appears the results were working for him. His season was shortened this year with some elbow issues in Spring Training, but that’s no longer an issue at this point.
DuRapau might be one of the better stories in the lower levels this year. He’s having a breakout season as a relief prospect, and has now moved from West Virginia to Altoona in one year. He started with a 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings in West Virginia, with a 19:1 K/BB ratio. He followed that up with another 1.40 ERA in 51.1 innings in Bradenton, with a 48:7 K/BB ratio. He started off in a long-relief role, but eventually moved to take over as Bradenton’s closer.
Typically, relief prospects in the lower levels don’t become relievers who reach the majors. That could be different in this case. DuRapau sits 90-93 MPH with his fastball, and has a cutter, curveball, and changeup. He can command all of his pitches for strikes, but has had a lot of success relying on a fastball/cutter combo out of the bullpen.
DuRapau is a good story because he was overlooked last year in the draft, going in the 32nd round as a college senior. That might have been due to his small frame, at 5′ 11″, 175 pounds. However, he’s done nothing but put up good numbers in pro ball, and the results look to be legit. The jump to Double-A will be a big test for his prospect status, but he shouldn’t have much trouble as a reliever who throws 90-93 with a good cutter and strong command of the strike zone. – Tim Williams
UPDATE 12:35 PM: Pirates Prospects has also learned that Mel Rojas and Matt Benedict are being promoted from Altoona to Indianapolis.
UPDATE 12:42 PM: Not as much excitement on the other end of these moves, as Rojas and Benedict profile more as upper-level organizational guys who might get a call-up to the majors at some point. Rojas has the best chance of that happening, but would have a difficult time making the majors in a Pirates’ system that is crowded with outfield talent. He didn’t help himself out this year, posting a .608 OPS with Indianapolis, and then getting demoted to Altoona and putting up a .715 OPS. Rojas has strong defense in center field and good speed. He also has a lot of raw power, but has never been able to carry that over to the games on a consistent basis. Last year he posted a .794 OPS, and looked like a guy who could get a shot at the majors soon, but he ended up taking a step back this year.
Benedict has been up to Indianapolis for a spot start this year. He’s a sinkerball pitcher who has been used as an organizational starter throughout the year, and will likely continue that role with Indianapolis now that they’re down a few pitchers. He didn’t put up good numbers in Altoona, with a 6.03 ERA in 97 innings. He’s got a good frame, and gets a lot of ground balls, but that’s pretty much his entire game. He might have success one day moving to a relief role, but for now he’ll continue pitching in this organizational role, which doesn’t give him a strong chance of reaching the majors. – Tim Williams