Throughout the offseason, it seemed the Pittsburgh Pirates were attempting to clear space for outfielder Austin Meadows. What sort of player could he be?
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Austin Wade Meadows out of high school in Georgia with the ninth overall selection in the 2013 draft.
The 2013 draft featured an interesting competition between Meadows and fellow Georgian Clint Frazier as the best prep hitter. Frazier was selected fifth overall by the Cleveland Indians, and Meadows was the next high school hitter to be drafted after Frazier.
The Pirates assigned Meadows to their Gulf Coast League affiliate. He finished the season with one week with the Pirates’ New York-Penn affiliate in Jamestown.
Combined between the two levels, Meadows hit .316/.424/.554 with seven home runs and three stolen bases, posting a 13.74 percent walk rate and 21.8 percent strikeout rate.
With his big first year after being a top-10 draft pick, he was rated very well in top 100 prospect lists, ranking #49 with Baseball America, #45 with MLB Pipeline and #89 with Baseball Prospectus.
2014 saw Meadows begin an all-too-common pattern of injuries and issues with staying healthy. He played with the Pirates’ low-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League in West Virginia primarily, outside of rehab appearances at two other levels.
He hit .317/.394/.488 with three home runs, two stolen bases, a 10.11 percent walk rate and a 17.55 percent strikeout rate in 45 games.
His year of injuries only seemed to affect him with Baseball Prospectus, who dropped him off their top 101. Baseball America rated him #41 and MLB Pipeline had him #46.
Meadows stayed off the disabled list throughout 2015, starting his year in high-A Bradenton in the Florida State League and finishing with a week at AA Altoona before heading to the Arizona Fall League.
For 2015 combined, he hit .310/.360/.420 with seven home runs, 21 stolen bases, 7.36 percent walk rate and 14.38 percent strikeout rate. In the AFL, he hit .169/.194/.308 with a home run and three stolen bases, posting a 3 percent walk rate and 17.91 percent strikeout rate.
After showing such success at just 20, Meadows was a fixture in the top 25 of prospect lists, ranking #22 with BA, #20 by MLB Pipeline and #22 with BP.
Meadows fought off the injury bug in his hamstrings throughout the year as he worked between AA Altoona and AAA Indianapolis in 2016, along with a stint in the New York-Penn League on rehab.
He hit .266/.333/.536 combined across the three levels of play in 87 games, hitting 12 home runs and stealing 17 bases. Meadows also posted 25 doubles and 11 triples along with a 9.38 percent walk rate and 19.03 percent strikeout rate.
After having success when healthy in the upper minors, Meadows was ranked #6 by BA, #9 by MLB Pipeline and #6 by BP.
I ranked Meadows #17 overall in my top 125 prospects for Call to the Pen back in January.
Next: Meadows' scouting report