The Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted two top prospects to the next step in their minor league careers.
Two former first rounds picks in Kevin Newman and Austin Meadows received promotions as they work their way closer to the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was announced early in the day on June 17th that Kevin Newman would be promoted from High-A Bradenton to AA Altoona Curve. In a corresponding move to make room for Newman on the Curve’s roster, star prospect Austin Meadows was promoted to the AAA Indianapolis Indians later that night. One interesting similarity about these two players is they also both suffered orbital fractures this season. Newman is considered a top 12 prospect in the organization and surely will be rising as a consensus top 10, Meadows is ranked as the #2 or #3 prospect and a consensus top 30 prospect in all of baseball.
Newman has absolutely crushed the Florida State League. In 41 games played he batted a league leading .366 with an on-base percentage of .422 and an OPS of .922. He finished his time there with three home runs, ten doubles, 24 RBI, and he only struck out 12 times while walking 17 times.
This was a quick promotion for Newman, as he only played these 41 games at the level. He proved why the Pirates used a first round pick on him. At the time when he was drafted, the fan base felt that the Pirate reached on an average shortstop. So far Newman has done nothing but hit. His career batting average over the last two years is .299. His average has gone up at each level he has played. Double-A will be a big test for Newman, as he will start to face more polished pitching prospect, and even some minor league veterans who know how to be effective in the minors.
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Austin Meadows started the year rated as the Pirates best hitting prospect, along with Josh Bell. Meadows missed the beginning of the year due to suffering a fractured orbital at the end of March. It was an unfortunate start for the 2013 first round pick. He came back in late April and started off slow batting below .200 for the first two weeks. However, since he went on a 24 game hit streak, and raised his average for the season to .311. On RumBunter he has been named one of the prospects of the week for the last three weeks consecutively.
Meadows on the year batted .311 at AA Altoona as mentioned earlier. This was in 45 games on the year. He also belted six home runs, 16 doubles, and an outstanding eight triples. His OPS numbers were even better as he got on base at a .365 clip and slugged a ridiculous .611, combining for a .976 OPS. Meadows got his first taste at Double-A last season, he played in 6
games and hit a robust .360. With that he played a combine 51 games at the AA level. Like Newman, the Pirates moved him up quickly. On his career he has a .312 batting average in the minors and an .862 OPS. The biggest jump for his OPS is in his slugging percentage. For his career he is at .484, this year he was at .611 at AA. Now that he is maturing, he is starting to show more power at the plate.
Meadows was the 9th overall pick for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013. The Pirates acquired this pick when they failed to sign Mark Appel the year before. Meadows was named by Jonathan Mayo as the most likely player to move through their teams system the quickest. Meadows is now just 21 years of age and find himself one call away from making it to the MLB.
Where will he play for the Pirates is the lingering question. The Pirates outfield is currently locked up and set for the future. This is a good problem to have, and we will wait for the answer once Meadows start dominating the AAA level. He has dominated every other level so far in his minor league career, so why not AAA also?