Baseball America Leaves Austin Meadows Off of International League’s Top 20 Prospects

Baseball America began releasing their lists of the top 20 prospects in each league yesterday with the Pacific Coast League. The International League was today and the lists will continue for the next couple weeks, with one each day. Usually the articles for these leagues start with who is on the list, but this list seems to have their biggest surprise (related to the Pittsburgh Pirates) in awhile.

Austin Meadows was not listed among their top 20 prospects and he had more than enough plate appearances to qualify. Two things make that even stranger. One is that he was ranked #22 overall in the minors in their mid-season updated list, which was posted 2 1/2 weeks after his hamstring injury sidelined him. The other strange part? Tyler Glasnow is ranked #12 on their list. He didn’t even qualify as a prospect this year when he was sent down. Prospects are allowed a maximum of 50 innings pitched in the majors, and before he played for Indianapolis this season, he was already at 77.2 innings.

It’s obvious that Meadows should drop in the rankings. He is to the point where the subjective term “injury-prone” is no longer subjective. The problem is that they had Meadows as the second best prospect in the league on May 11th when they did their updated list and now he has dropped completely out of a top 20? He actually put up a .770 OPS over 36 games after that first list was put out. Not only is that well above league average for the IL, Meadows was also one of the better defenders and base runners in the league, so he was doing everything you like to see from someone who just turned 22 days before the list was posted.

The fact that he did well after May 11th and they already knocked him down for the hamstring injury in their mid-season update, makes it hard to believe that he didn’t make the top 20 at all for the league. It seems like they are deducting him a lot for the late season oblique injury. While it is a repeat injury, the Pirates were more cautious with it and decided to shut him down. It wasn’t a serious injury.

Meadows is still going to be 22 on Opening Day next year, which is younger than half of their top 20 in the IL, and he still has all of the tools to be a top prospect, which he displayed during that 36 game streak in May. I didn’t cherry-pick a 36 game stretch if you’re wondering. It went from the time the list was released until the day he got hurt.

The International League is a loaded list, so ranking outside the top 20 isn’t that bad if you’re a “just missed” player. Tyler Glasnow at #12 is a bit of a head-scratcher in that he’s even on the list to begin with, but he definitely pitched well. I’ve seen guys make the list who lost their prospect status during the season before, but that was after their time in Triple-A, not before being demoted. They call his changeup well below average, which I don’t agree with because the pitch was more effective this time through the minors. They also mention that he had trouble repeating his mechanics, which was more of an issue before he got rid of the windup and went from the set position all of the time.

Steven Brault was named their IL Pitcher of the Year. He was also named as the league’s pitcher of the year and made BA’s Triple-A All-Star team, which also had players from the PCL included.

BA will have a chat this afternoon, where I’m sure Meadows will be addressed. I’ll post an update with their answer.

UPDATE: 3:20 PM: Carlos Collazo ran the chat and here’s his answer on Meadows not making the list:

Meadows was a tough one and a guy who certainly had a chance to make the list. The tools are obvious, but he hit just .250/.311/.359 during the IL this season, and while this list isn’t about just the numbers it does make it harder to crack when there’s a lot of other talented players who performed. His mechanics were bad earlier in the season and he also expanded the zone a bit. There are certainly some managers and evaluators who are convinced he’ll bounce back, but he’s yet to perform at Triple-A. The injury is less concerning than his issues in the box in my opinion.

  • I wonder what is going to be said on these boards when BA’s top 100 prospects comes out and Meadows isn’t on it?

  • Good response from Collazo. As he says the reality is Meadows has yet to perform well at Triple A and there are many other talented players with high ceiling who have.

  • Guess what… EVERY Pirate fan is now talking about Baseball America’s IL rankings when they wouldn’t have until now. In all honesty AAA rankings are the least important of all of them. Congrats BA your plan worked.

  • attendance matters

  • One person’s opinion. So let him get and stay healthy and prove them wrong next year.

    Did you see what Baseball America did with its print paper? Large color photos and larger print with little to no viable content. They dropped the individual team minor league write ups, removed the minor league stats and is on the way of the Dodo bird. I was an early subscriber to that paper around 1,050, but after these changes I cancelled my subscription.

  • As I have followed the Pirates and baseball through the years, prospect ratings remind me of the electorate in this country: What have you done for me lately?

    So many top prospects have not even made it the majors and many like young Clint Hurdle made it, but were disappointing. And there have been other top prospects who have dipped in the ratings only to come back and have successful careers.

    • If you objectively look at production from past drafts 2009, 2010, 2012 etc the Pirates production at the MLB is CLEARLY below the norm relative to their peers. This is undeniable. And while people talk about how it will improve as prospects get the majors that can be said for a lot of teams. There is no plausible argument that can be made that they have drafted well.

      Look at 2010- forget about the major swing and miss of Taillon over Machado and the Orioles.

      Look at the production the Blue Jays, Marlins, Mets, Rays, Braves got from that draft compared to us.

      Ask yourself why the product on the field stinks- do people actually believe that is not at all related to barren drafts many years?

      • Blue Jays, $178 million payroll. I wonder how many guys from the system that includes? Marlins, Mets, Rays and Braves? When is the last time any of them fielded a playoff team? No so sure that your opinion isnt slightly biased by a year that had an abnormal amount of things go wrong.

        • What the hell are you talking about. I’m giving examples of teams that accumulated serious production from the 2010 draft and it had basically nothing to do with payroll.

          The Mets 2010 draft has produced over 30 WAR for them and most definitely was a reason they went to the WS in 2015(Degrom/Harvey).

          But it’s not about teams making or not making playoffs. Every team’s situation is different, the PIrates were in the unique position of having a MVP in his prime to build around. When you look at the Pirates drafts cumulatively, they are suffering from extremely little production. With Cutch past his peak, Walker gone, guys getting older they have had very little production to fill in the gaps.

          • Where are the Met’s finishing? Payroll does matter as I noted the Jays, not the Mets. Surrounding young talent with high performing vets helps relieve pressure. Playoffs and WS are how success is measured, in case you forgot. As far as the Mets, yeah, they had performance from thos2 2 and still are a mess. You stated well below the norm yet hang your hat on 1 team. So, I must ask, “what the hell are you talking about?”

            • WS is not how success is measured. Before you start commenting on how good or bad NH’s drafts have been you should have an idea on how much talent on average most teams garnered in such drafts. The Pirates have received about 3 WAR so far from the 2010 draft. The average MLB team has received much, much more.

              Take a look at some other years- it isn’t much better.

              • Please control your own comments. I will comment as I choose. Unless of course, you are the moderator, which, you probably are not.

            • All teams who will be drafting near each other in ’18

          • Yinzer reply coming ! How many WS have the Mets won lately ?

            • LEO! How is your man Elias looking!!? Framing only cost the Bucs about 1 win so far this year.

              Leo help me understand how the 2010 draft was a good one relative to the production other teams got out of that draft. I’ll wait.

          • Agree, our top draft picks are a failure if you are honest. With no money to build this team is in deep trouble.

      • I think it’s fair to say, at this point in time, the draft strategy to draft tall, projectable RHSP and line drive super utility types has not proven to be the right course of action.

        They eschewed power for OBP and it has hurt the franchise greatly in this season of unprecedented power in MLB history.

  • Oh well, rankings aren’t the end-all-be-all. He just needs to stay healthy. Hopefully he’ll be ready for the burgh at some point around Super 2 next season.

  • Hopefully it fuels him to some extent this off season and next spring.

  • Prospect rankings are a bit like team power rankings, good for discussing, but meaningless in the end.

    There is no denying Meadows has had a really tough year due to both injury and performance. However, it will be quickly forgotten if he stays healthy next year and hits like he’s capable of hitting.

    • Prospect rankings may be meaningless but they certainly have been touted over the years in support of this Front Office.

      • Only in the general sense that they took one of the worst farm systems and made them one of the best systems.

        • When they come out and are ranked anywhere from 13th-17th this year by BA I doubt we will be hearing as much talk about the farm system. Just a guess.

          • The thing about farm systems is the high level of variance from year to year. If Tucker builds on his breakout, Keller keeps doing Keller things, and some of the lower level talent have a few breakouts then it could just be a one year blip with having a “middle of the pack” farm. It didn’t take long for the White Sox to have an abysmal farm to one of the best and in two years it’s entirely likely they can be back at the bottom once Moncada, Kopech, Giolito, Dunning, etc. all lose prospect status.

            • Ah so *that’s* why it took Huntington six years to crack the Top Ten. 😉

              • Rereading my comment it definitely sounds much more Huntington apologist than intended and I think both drafting and acquiring young talent through non-draft avenues are things that Huntington is average or slightly below average at when the organization needs a GM who excels in those areas given that the franchise is basically a nonentity in free agency. Though I do have higher hopes for this past years draft class and other additions to the organization (O’Neil Cruz and that Acuna kid in particular) relative to the past 3, 4, or 5 years. Just trying to point out how frivolous, subjective and even circumstantial farm rankings tend to be.

            • Variance or not the Pirates have ranked no worse than 8th since 2013 according to Baseball America. You can rest assured that is changing this year.

        • Best systems in MLB means top 5- top 8 at worst. No way in hell this system is that good standing here today by any objective measure.

          That coupled with the fact you have a 73-74 true talent team on the field is a bit of a problem.

        • That produced zero all stars, just a bunch of average big leaguers. I know Cole had an all star appearance, one appearance for the number one overall pick.

  • Watch NH trade him now that his value is as low as ever.

    • I don’t think NH trades him but it will be interesting to see how they continue with the same narrative this winter. The 2017 MLB team is objectively bad and the farm system will undoubtedly take a hit in where it is ranked. I’m guessing according to MLB it will ranked as an average system as opposed to top end.

      Now people will say Meadows is still an elite prospect etc, and nothing has changed but as far as an objective measure of the likelihood of him approaching his ceiling- that HAS changed.

      Rapidly declining attendance coupled with a bad MLB team and an average farm system- it’s hard to imagine season ticket base not taking a considerable hit next year.

      • I don’t think he will trade him either, I was just expressing my frustration with the way he does things. He hoards prospects, yes I know he has traded some, but just the fringe prospects for,expiring contract players for the most part. Our prospects have been flawed, Glasnow control, Meadows arm, lock of power and injuries, etc. none has panned out to a degree that other than average MLB player. I look at other teams have done, teams like the Astros, Indians, they traded prospect for a legit chance to content not projects on the verge of freee agency.

        • I do agree that he hoards them but in my estimation the BIGGEST problem is that he simply isn’t very good at acquiring young talent.

    • I don’t see Meadows being traded. I do see Cutch, maybe Harrison, heading out. Part of the farm system problem is that so many prospects are now rookies with the ML team. They are adjusting this year and should get a little better with experience. The defense, though, is deplorable. For a team that is built on pitching (NH’s approach) you would think defense would be a premium. They may look to improve that in the off-season. Drafting in the top ten (or close thereto) may help their prospect ratings as well.

    • I think McCutchen will be traded this winter, not Meadows. Meadows will be in Pittsburgh sometime next year. What the Pirates need going forward is a really good 4th outfielder who can fill in when Meadows and Polanco are injured. Neither of those guys seems likely to play more than 120 games a year.

  • A few people asked us in the comments about where we thought Glasnow would rank as a prospect now and I never answered because you’d have to ignore the bigger than normal MLB sample size to answer that. Here’s an answer for those people. Apparently he is better than Meadows as a prospect now…

    • Are you planning to chat with BA? Those are some convincing points to question their ranking system (at least to me).

      • No, but I’m sure someone will ask. Most chat questions are related to players who didn’t make the list and how close were they to making it.

        I saw the list when I first woke up and only scrolled down to #10 at first, then went back up to see where Meadows was, figuring tired John just missed his name. When I then went further down and saw Glasnow, I checked the date of the article. Going by their own rankings, it’s crazy that Meadows isn’t listed. I figured he would be in the 8-12 range and would be the only Pirate on the list.

        • I’d assume their answer would be something like he struggled to stay healthy, missed development time, they question whether he will ever play full season, etc.

          But if they’re really over him because of that oblique injury… I honestly found it more relieving that Meadows was swinging so well before that oblique recurred. Maybe that’s just me since I’m a huge Meadows fan.

          • He had a few really good games right before shutting things down. The good part so far is that the hamstring injuries haven’t seemed to slow him down at all, so his speed is still a plus tool

            BA has a big issue with their rankings. They do them different ways. Leagues are done one way, teams another and overall top 100 another way, so you get different rankings for the same players

        • You were right. Someone did ask a question. And we were both wrong; it wasn’t the injury-prone tag, it was that April where he slumped so bad. I looked up and he actually hit pretty well after April (OPS .777, wRC+ 116) so I don’t think I follow their logic.

          • Annnd that small sample production was still worse than what every other position player prospect on the list hit for the *year*.

            I’d still argue that he should’ve squeaked in the last few spots, but most of the guys on that list are Top 50 prospects or already performing in the Majors due to their AAA play. Meadows is neither. It’s not been a good year, to say the least.

            • The upside of Meadows’ down year is that Luplow has gotten opportunities that he otherwise would not have seen, and has acquired himself well. In the future the Bucs will need both Meadows and Luplow.

          • Yeah, I didn’t understand that answer. They already knocked him for both the injury and the slow start in their two ranking updates during the season. He went from 4 to 22 to 29. The only way he would drop further is if all of those people passed him. I think you’re just seeing what happens when prospect lists are made up different ways on the same site. If someone who did the mid-season rankings also did the IL top 20, Meadows probably would be in that 8-12 range.

    • That is an absolute indisputable fact at least for the next 15 seconds.

  • Wouldn’t have guessed he dropped this far but not surprised to see a serious decline in his ranking. I’ve felt that when Baseball America releases their 2018 Prospect Handbook that the Pirates system will drop from 7th to near 15th give or take a few spots. Just mentioned the other day that it was almost a certainty Meadows would see a drop in his ranking but this tells me it will be even more than anticipated.