Austin Meadows is one of the top-10 prospects in all of baseball, but will we see him in the Major Leagues in 2017?
Under Neal Huntington’s leadership the Pittsburgh Pirates have become known as an organization that churns out top prospects. These players almost always go on to be successful Major League players. Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, and Josh Bell are all examples.
The next great Pirate prospect to rise under Huntington’s watch could be outfielder Austin Meadows. The former first round draft pick is the Pirates’ top prospect. Additionally, he is also one of the top-10 prospects in all of baseball.
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Austin Meadows started the 2016 season at Double-A Altoona. In a move that was somewhat surprising, he was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis in June. The surprise was not that Meadows made it to Triple-A in 2016, the surprise is that he made it there so quickly.
When Meadows made it to Triple-A people began to speculate when he would make the Major Leagues. Undoubtedly, Meadows being one move away from the Major Leagues has fueled the Andrew McCutchen trade talk. This leads to the question that must be asked: will we see Austin Meadows in the Major Leagues in 2017?
My guess is that we will see Meadows playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017. However, this does not mean that Andrew McCutchen will be traded. Because I do not expect McCutchen to be traded.
Even if McCutchen were traded this offseason, I would still expect Meadows to start the season at Triple-A. First off, Meadows has just 145 plate appearances at Triple-A and he is not Major League ready yet. Secondly, he has struggled some in his short time at Triple-A.
In his limited time at Triple-A Austin Meadows slashed just .214/.297/.460/.757. However, his .335 wOBA and 113 wRC+ were both above league average. Meadows also flashed his great power potential. His .460 slugging percentage shows this, as does the .246 ISO he had at Triple-A last season.
Furthermore, combined between Double-A and Triple-A Austin Meadows hit 12 home runs in 335 plate appearances last season. This puts him on pace for about 25 home runs over a full seasons worth of plate appearances. That is awesome to see from someone who is still just 21-years old. It should also be noted that Altoona’s ballpark is far from hitter friendly.
The skill set that Meadows brings to the table has the potential to be elite. He is a patient hitter, he should develop 30+ home run power, he has speed (he stole 17 bases in 2016), and he is an above average defender. Once a player like this reaches Triple-A, it is hard to keep him in the Minor Leagues much longer.
Odds are the Pirates will need Austin Meadows at some point in 2017. Injuries are going to happen in a Major League Baseball season. And said injuries could open the door for Meadows to get a shot in the Majors. Especially if Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, or Gregory Polanco were to go on the disabled list. At the very least, I expect Meadows to earn a September call up in 2017.
As I said above, I expect Austin Meadows to see the Majors Leagues in 2017. A big reason is because he is too talented not to. If nothing else, I believe he will earn a September call up before becoming a regular in 2018.