Scouting profile: Austin Meadows
Former first-round Draft pick is ranked 22nd among all prospects
Left-handing-hitting and throwing Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Austin Meadows is currently ranked No. 22 among the MLB.com Top 100 prospects and No. 2 in the Bucs' farm system. The center fielder is a well-proportioned 6-foot 2, 200 pounds.
After committing to play baseball at Clemson University following graduation from Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., he chose instead to sign a professional contract with the Pirates. He was the No. 9 overall selection in the 2013 Draft.
Playing in 24 games as a senior at Grayson, Meadows hit a robust .535 with four home runs and 28 RBIs in 90 plate appearances.
I have watched Meadows play in the current Arizona Fall League. He has shown some pure tools so far, and he projects to get even better.
I have seen a very smooth, compact swing and very clean, uncomplicated and simple hitting mechanics. His hitting style and his stroke are his greatest assets.
As a young hitter, Meadows has above-average pitch recognition and a good knowledge of the strike zone. He is comfortable in the batter's box, using a measured swing with an appropriately aggressive approach. He doesn't look to hit a home run on every pitch. I like the way the ball jumps off his bat, resulting in line drives to the entire field.
In parts of three seasons, Meadows has a composite Minor League batting average of .312 in the Pirates system. He is coming off a year when he played at Class A Advanced Bradenton (.307 in 556 plate appearances) and Double-A Altoona (.360 in six games and 28 plate appearances).
Meadows has played center field in his career to date. His good speed is an asset in that role. Center is his best and most comfortable position.
An average defender, his arm strength may be a bit inconsistent. Some throws are strong with good carry and accuracy, while others miss the mark. He has good first-step quickness and recognizes the ball well off the bat.
When all is considered, however, his hit tool and speed are more advanced at this stage than his defense.
Meadows has the ability to use the entire field with a good stroke and quick hands that can turn on an inside pitch.
Meadows is able to hit effectively against both right-handed and left-handed pitching. And while his power hasn't blossomed yet, he can hit the gaps and take an extra base regardless of the arm side of the pitcher. That asset should keep him from a strict platoon role in the future.
He has good speed out of the batter's box from the left side, and he will make an infielder hurry throws on ground balls.
Once on first base, he'll have to be watched carefully by the pitcher. Meadows will be able to steal his share of bases and get into scoring position.
Meadows has not shown much power in his career so far. He has hit only 17 homers in 983 plate appearances. That may change with maturation and experience.
He is best suited for a role as a center fielder and has limited defensive ability to play either corner.
I find this interesting
Prior to being selected by the Pirates, Meadows was viewed as the best overall athlete, the second-best pure hitter and the player with the best strike zone awareness in the Draft class. Those are compelling accolades.
A strong, muscular athlete, he suffered a hamstring injury while rounding a base during Spring Training in 2014. He looks very healthy in the Arizona Fall League.
The future for Meadows
His best chance at a big league career should come as a starting center fielder. Of course, All-Star incumbent Andrew McCutchen should retain that position for years to come, giving Meadows time to develop as a complete player.
Meadows still has a great deal of time to refine his game in the Pirates' farm system. His Arizona Fall League experience will help him improve his approach against quality pitching.
Meadows in a word