It is that time of the year again! MLB Pipeline is starting to put out their top prospect lists, which includes their positional rankings. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have plenty of prospects from their minor league clubs making appearances on these lists.
So far, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had Tyler Glasnow rated as the number two overall right-handed pitcher, Mitch Keller received an honorable mention, Josh Bell rated as the number two overall first base prospect, and Ke’Bryan Hayes rated as the number nine overall third baseman. Kevin Newman received an honorable mention on shortstop list. The Pittsburgh Pirates had no prospects on the top ten catcher or second baseman lists. Next up, MLB Pipeline released their Top Ten Outfielders. Here is the full list:
Andrew Benintendi, BOS
Victor Robles, WAS
Austin Meadows, PIT
Eloy Jimenez, CHC
Lewis Brinson, MIL
Mickey Moniak, PHI
Bradley Zimmer, CLE
Manuel Margot, SD
Clint Frazier, NYY
Kyle Lewis, SEA
The top three have typically been lumped together since last year. Many scouts and sites believe Benintendi is the best outfield prospect in baseball hands down. Then there is Robles and Meadows, who are pretty much considered equivalent. In fact, MLB Pipeline’s midseason list had Meadows at nine and Robles at ten. There are a few specific reasons why Robles is ahead of Meadows.
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First, Meadows missed the end of last season after somewhat struggling at Triple-A. Also, Robles will no doubt stick in center field, and he will provide excellent defense there. Meadows, who is 6’3” and 200 pounds, will likely not stay in center as he gets bigger and loses foot speed. He also has a below-average arm, while Robles has a plus arm. The other reason being, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have a star defender Startling Marte in center. This ranking, of course, is not a knock on Meadows as he probably has the most advanced offensive approach on the list.
Here is what Jonothan Mayo and the others at MLB Pipeline have written about Meadows and their expectations for him going forward:
"“…At the same time, the Georgia native reached Triple-A at age 21, which is well ahead of the curve.The main reason Meadows has been able to move so quickly despite the interruptions has been his advanced approach at the plate and his innate ability to hit for average regardless of time away. He has a very smooth left-handed swing, one that has largely featured a hit-first approach, though the power started to show up a bit more in 2016. He draws walks and does not strike out a ton, though he struggled a bit in Triple-A for the first time. “"
Austin Meadows will be a top ten prospect in baseball this year. He is the heir to Andrew McCutchen, which will most likely be this calendar year. The big thing this year will be for Meadows to stay healthy. Last year in Triple-A, Meadows battled a hamstring issue which greatly affected his performance. If he is healthy, he will likely continue to show the advanced approach at the plate, which has led him to success at every level thus far.
Chances are Meadows could be MLB ready by mid-season. If the Bucs are out of it at the trade deadline, there is a good shot Andrew McCutchen will be dealt if the market is there for him. That is when we could see the 2014 number nine overall pick make his big league debut. For now, look for Meadows to hit the ground running and prove that his down numbers were because of his injuries and not being overmatched for his age.
*Also, Austin Meadows will be at Spring Training