Player Profile: Pirates Prospect Austin Meadows
Photo Credit: Steven Kiebach
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Austin Meadows in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of high school in Georgia. A few years later, he’s the top hitting prospect in the organization.
Meadows earned the honor of top hitting prospect by reaching Triple-A as a 21-year-old. Scouts laud his approach at the plate. He was named a MILB.com Organization All-Star in the last two years and played in the Futures Game last season.
His combination of left-handed swing and hit-first approach has led to hitting around .300 in nearly every stop up the organizational ladder. Meadows hit .294 with the Pirates of the Gulf Coast League in 2013, .322 in the South Atlantic League for the West Virginia Power in 2014 and .307 in the Florida State League in 2015 for the Bradenton Marauders.
Despite a season filled with injuries in 2016, Meadows hit .311 in 45 games in the Eastern League with the Altoona Curve before his promotion to Triple-A with the Indianapolis Indians. Because of Meadows, the Pirates were tempted to trade Andrew McCutchen to make room for him the same way they made room for him by trading Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves in 2009.
In a Q&A with MiLB.com, Meadows said he incorporated yoga and cross-training to be leaner, more durable and more flexible in order to avoid the injury bug again this season. His base weight last year was around 215 lb but his goal is 210. He said there was a lot of value in going through such a rough season.
“I think you have to go through it,” Meadows told MiLB.com. “For me, hopefully that’s the last of everything. Going through that has helped me learn more about my body and that if I’m feeling something to speak up and not try to push through it because that will definitely get you eventually. Just really knowing my body and knowing my limits, being smart about it and taking care of myself. Whether I’m feeling bad or good, you still need to take care of yourself. I can’t be satisfied and I need to stay on top of my movements.”
Triple-A Indianapolis will likely be the place where Meadows start the 2017 season. He played 37 games for the Indians, but struggled to a .214 average and hit half of his career high 12 home runs there as well.
“The speed of the game was the same but obviously the crowd,” Meadows said. “You have more noise and more pressure depending on the person. I think a lot of people would say the pitching was more experienced, you get older guys who’ve been to the big leagues—guys with better stuff. Picking up on how pitchers are trying to pitch you, shifts in the infield and outfield. It definitely had more of a big league feel to it.”
As Meadows grows in age so does his power. He credits that to working with Altoona hitting coach Kevin Riggs and strengthening his lower body, which can be a tough task for one with a tall, lanky frame. Meadows said he tries to mold his game to Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich.
“He’s a solid player, can swing the bat very well, the power is there, [he’s a] good defender,” Meadows said. “That’s a guy that I like to watch. Obviously there are other guys out there, but he’s one that comes to mind when it comes to my type of game.”
Yelich had similar stats in the big leagues like Meadows in the minor leagues in his first three years. He then hit 21 home runs and 98 RBI in his fourth year. This could eventually be Meadows.