A good two years after many expected, Austin Meadows is finally making his debut!
A product of Grayson Georgia, the 23-year-old actually played against Clint Frazier growing up. Taken ninth overall in the 2013 MLB draft, Austin played in the rookie league that year hitting five home runs with 29 runs, 20 RBI and 3 stolen bases across 43 games played sporting a respectable .294 average. Over the next two years he worked up to lower A and eventually AA in 2015 where he batted .360 with five runs in six games.
2016 showed a promotion to AAA where he struggled, batting .214 but his stolen base totals increased up to eight across 37 games. His issue was not with his ball contact, running abilities or even defense but instead a plethora of injuries (broken orbital bone, oblique issues, hamstring problems) which have hampered him seemingly every year over the last 3. To combat this he hired a new trainer, changed his diet, changed his workout regimen, heck he even changed his number thinking the number 13 he wore with Indianapolis last year was unlucky.
MLB call up
I remember back 3 years ago when Austin Meadows, Clint Frazier, Bradley Zimmer and Jesse Winker were some of the top prospect outfielders and now all of them have made it to the majors in VERY different paths and journeys. Some of them are starters, some are in a platoon and some have a very loaded group ahead of them.
Starling Marte’s oblique issue went past a day-to-day problem and requires a DL stint which opened up the door for Austin to make his MLB debut. Austin should get at least 7 days if Starling is moved to the 10-day DL and perhaps more if the issue persists. He will fill in at center field and definitely hit against right handed pitchers, hopefully against lefties (but TBD). Austin has been sitting between 40 and 70 on most Prospect lists sitting 2nd on the Pirates prospect list behind Mitch Keller. His eight steals, 18 runs and 15 RBIs across 31 games were enough for the league to bring him up to debut on Friday.
What to expect
He has a very patient approach at the plate willing to draw a handful of walks but more importantly rarely striking out. He is not afraid to drive pitchers deep into count averaging around 4.3 pitches per plate appearance. He will not be overly powerful at the plate but instead making firm contact to all sides of the field (in fact almost sending more hits to opposite field). He is capable of landing a number of doubles thanks to his speed but home runs are more of a rarity.
His hit tool and speed should make him an attractive fantasy asset from a batting average, on base percentage, runs and stolen bases point of view much more than home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage. Given struggles at the plate with Jordy Mercer (.229 batting average), Adam Frazier (.229 batting average) and Sean Rodriguez who had filled in for Marte the last few games (.189 batting average) I would hope that Austin is given a chance as one of the top six to seven hitters in the lineup, but it remains to be seen how they will treat him.
I’m not going to attempt season long expected stats due to his injury history, possibility that he’s sent down in a week, complete lack of MLB experience and his age as a more mature prospect. I will provide some expected comps: Delino Deshields, Gerrardo Parra and Jose Pirela. He’s currently 12% owned and I anticipate him getting up to 20% by the start of tonight’s game. Given the complete lack of experience I would limit his adds to 12-team leagues. He’s certainly attractive in points leagues given his good eye at the plate.
Will Austin play well enough to stay in the lineup?
This poll is closed
Yes, he’s here to stay
No, he isnt good enough
Yes but he still gets sent down when Marte returns