Minor Moves: Austin Meadows to the DL, Mitchell Tolman and Casey Hughston to Altoona

The Pirates made a series of moves throughout their minor league system today, likely in response to two big injuries. We already saw that Josh Harrison was placed on the 10-day disabled list, leading to Chris Bostick being promoted to Pittsburgh. Austin Meadows was also placed on the 7-day disabled list with an oblique strain in Indianapolis. This led to a need for an outfielder and an infielder in Indianapolis.

To fill that need, the Pirates promoted Justin Maffei and Anderson Feliz from Altoona. Both are organizational guys, and both have gone up to Indianapolis this year when the roster was short. Maffei will help fill out the outfield, while Feliz will provide extra infield depth.

This set of moves led to the need for an infielder and an outfielder to move up to Altoona, since like Indianapolis, the Curve will be playing in the post-season in the next week. The Pirates responded by promoting Mitchell Tolman and Casey Hughston from Bradenton to Altoona.

Tolman hit for a .267/.364/.393 line in Bradenton this year, with nine homers in 415 at-bats. He showed a good ability to hit for average and get on base, although he was too selective at times, resembling what Max Moroff showed in the lower levels. That led to some streaky performances, and lower power. The power was lowered also by the pitcher friendly Florida State League, so it will be interesting to see how he responds in Altoona.

Hughston put up a .248/.300/.393 line in 400 at-bats this year, while showing some alarming strikeout numbers. He struck out in 33.1% of his plate appearances, and didn’t see improvements as the season went on, striking out 36.2% of the time since the start of July, with a 2.2% walk rate. Hughston has some of the best raw power in the system, and is a plus defender in center field. He’s also one of the fastest outfielders in the system. But those alarming strikeout problems make all of those tools useless, and make it unlikely that he will make it beyond Double-A.

  • Just my humble, uninformed opinion, but I’m officially done with Austin Meadows until he demonstrates that he can (1) stay off the DL, and (2) produce at a level that indicates he belongs in AAA, let alone deserves a call up to the major league club. He seems to have spent the past two years injured or rehabbing half the time (including one fluke injury). His stats when healthy don’t scream that we’ve got to get him up to the big leagues as soon as possible. Again, I’m no authority, and I realize baseball is hard, but ten years in, there seems to be something wrong with our drafting and development. Or maybe we tend to overhype our own prospects to the point that we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. See Tyler Glasnow. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be thrilled if both these guys come up, stay up (and in the lineup) and produce at high levels. Much as I subscribe to Tim’s view that The Pirates are currently lost in No Man’s Land, I begin to think maybe Clint Hurdle has a point.

    • Good post. After 10 years it is quite evident there is something wrong with the drafting and development.

    • Michael Sankovich
      September 3, 2017 6:04 pm

      well said; I share same sentiments.

    • mike_carlini66
      September 4, 2017 3:33 am

      I would also agree there is a point where we overhype our own prospects. It can be easy to do if you were around more than 10 years ago as most of us were.

  • Meadows truly needs to come to Spring Training healthy, stay healthy and produce or he’s done as a serious prospect, IMHO.

  • Sorry this is off the subject. But anyone else having trouble with the app? Mine will open up. But no articles, everything saved is gone. 🙁

  • Crazy thing is Tolman has a .125 ISO vs .100 for Will Craig in the FSL.

    • Craig’s August was really bad. He batted 200 with only had 1 XBH. His ISO was .010 points higher than Tolman’s before 08/01.

      I asked about Craig’s struggles a few Prospect Watches ago but the post got flagged as spam so I didn’t get any insight as to why it was so bad. Could be a multitude of reasons but I haven’t seen it get much ink here.

      • Just a very poor pick. This time last year it was rationalized by some that while Craig might eventually have to move off 3b it could be years down the road. Less than a year later you have a 1st round pick who has been moved to 1b with very uninspiring numbers vs righties and horrible ISO. And he turns 23 in a few months.

        Too many picks such as Will Craig are the reason it’s time to move on from NH. Not because of the Nicasio nonsense.

      • Just so you know, we don’t flag or delete comments. Disqus has issues where the comments get erased or don’t post. Happens to me sometimes. We might change the platform in the off-season.

        • Thanks for the response, Tim. First time I had it happen to me. I was just sort of surprised no one was talking about his August when I saw his stats haha. I didn’t mean to insinuate anything.

      • Without seeing much of him, it could be as simple as the league he played in. The FSL is a pitcher-friendly league, it’s brutal weather for everyday players and he was right near the top of the league in games played. Plus it’s also his first full season, which wasn’t the case for any other position players.

        It’s not easy reporting to Florida in late February and never leaving the state, but playing about 150 games when you add in Spring Training. He finished 12th in the league in OPS, sixth in doubles and fourth in OBP, so it’s not exactly like he had a bad year for the league or for a player skipping low-A. You can’t ignore the league he is in when looking at his season. It only looks bad because he was the 1st round pick. If he was a 3rd round pick, people would be happy with the results at this level.

        His stats were enough to get him promoted to Altoona a month ago when Espinal moved up, but when you look at the situation, there is no rush with him. His position is first base. He can develop in the minors at a slow pace because Josh Bell isn’t going anywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Craig spend all of 2018 in Altoona and all of 2019 in Indy. At that point, a lot can change and it’s not worth worrying about now.

        • The problem is that he wasn’t a 3rd round pick. You would hope for more from a 1st round selection.

          • It was a solid season regardless of where he was picked, I’m saying it would have been appreciated more if he was a third round pick. Some people ignore the league and skipping a level and just look at the stats as a standard number. If he was drafted by a west coast team and put those same numbers up in the California League, they would be horrible. If he went to Low-A and put up an .850 OPS, he wouldn’t be a better prospect either.

            You put up the numbers he did in the FSL and learn a new position well like he did and it’s a solid season. He definitely didn’t improve his prospect stock, completely moving off of a more valuable position hurt him right away, but it’s not going to take a big hit either. He clearly wasn’t over-matched in the league.

            • His prospect won’t take a big hit. The problem is his prospect stock was pretty poor for a 1st round selection. 50 HIGH is not great. For comparison, look at someone like Taylor Trammel who was picked after Craig and was rated 55 high(and did A LOT to improve his stock this year) Even taking into account the FSL, this still looks like a poor pick.

              The reason Craig was a poor pick is because his ceiling wasn’t exceptionally high(see the 50 grade) nor was he a very safe pick. Regardless of rationalizations last year, the fear he could not stick at 3b have been sadly validated.

        • I didn’t think about him skipping leagues I did think about the FSL being brutally hot though.

          I’m not even all that worried about him… I kinda quit following Bradenton as closely as I had been after Tucker and Keller were promoted and I was shocked at his numbers. I’m not really all that worried about him as a player. I knew his bat was good for most of the year and we have JB at first for the foreseeable future. I definitely didn’t mean to cause a shit storm like I’m seeing

    • I think that’s more approach. Tolman will wait deep in the count looking for a pitch to crush. That approach doesn’t work as well in the upper levels.

      • I don’t disagree that Tolman may have issues at a higher level. Unfortunately so will Will Craig for different reasons.

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