Pittsburgh Pirates: Minor League Hitter of May

Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports /

May is already winding down, and both the Major League and Minor League seasons are now about two months removed from opening day.  Some players started off slow in April, but rebounded well in May.  Who is the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league player from the month of May?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have one of the better farm systems in baseball according to most major baseball sites.  With that, there are always a lot of players who perform at a very high level each month.  For the month of April, the title went to Kevin Kramer.  Kramer raked in April, batting to a slash line of .373/.478/.613.  Although there were several other prospects who put up strong numbers, none carried it through the month like Kramer did.

This month is a similar story.  Prospects like Connor Joe, Jordan Luplow, Edgar Santana, and Ke’Bryan Hayes all deserve looks for their strong months.  However, the rights to the May hitter of the month is between two former first round picks in Austin Meadows and Cole Tucker.  Both have put together not only strong Mays, but big time bounce back months.

Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows had just about the worst April out of any top prospect in baseball.  After putting together a strong Spring Training with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Meadows came out and posted a batting average below the Mendoza Line at .195.  Also, he only got on-base at a clip of .247 and slugged just a little more at .256.  All in all, it may have been the worst month of Meadow’s minor league career.

Yet, the top prospect bounced back this May.  With two days left he has a batting average of .317 and an OPS of .844.  These are numbers that are expected to come from the second best outfield prospect in baseball.  He essentially saw all his numbers move in positive directions over the month.  His strikeouts went from 20 in April down to 11 in May, and his walks went from 5 to 10.  He also added 10 more RBIs than the prior month, going from 7 to 17. The biggest thing may have been his extra base hit totals.  He only had three in April, two doubles and one home run.  In May, he has 13, hitting 11 doubles and two home runs.   A strong month for the top prospect who could break into the major leagues in just a few weeks.

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Cole Tucker

Cole Tucker, however, may have performed just a little better than Meadows.  The story is the same for Tucker.  The former first round pick came out in April and really struggled, although not nearly as bad as Meadows did.  Through April, Tucker was batting .230.  With that being said, he did post a .320 on-base percentage, but also was only slugging .276.  All in all, the only thing Tucker was doing was walking and getting on base. Other than that, he was not collecting a lot of base hits or really driving the ball.

Nevertheless, his switch flipped in May.  Tucker has got plenty of base hits, posting a batting average of .321.  He also is still walking a lot, grabbing 13 free passes in 25 games giving him an on-base percentage of .395.  The biggest thing though?  His power potential is starting to show.  The middle infielder has a slugging percentage of .575, driving four home runs, four triples, and seven doubles in the month.  Add his newly found pop in with his 14 stolen bases for the month, and Tucker is showing why the Pittsburgh Pirates invested a first round pick in him back in 2014.

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Final Thoughts

When it comes down to it, both players deserve the nod for the hitter of the month.  Both posted really strong numbers.  But more importantly, both bounced back from poor months with impressive performances.  However, the Hitter of the Month goes to Cole Tucker.  Tucker is still a developing player.  He was the 24th overall pick and projected to be a raw player who would need time to develop.  Meanwhile, Meadows has been considered one of the better outfield prospects in baseball since he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  As great as it is to see Meadows putting up strong numbers, it is expected.  Tucker, however, may have had the breakout month of his career.  That is one of the reasons why Cole Tucker gets the nod over Meadows.  Also, in general, Tucker outperformed Meadows by posting an OPS of .970. Ultimately, better production is the key.

*All Numbers are Courtesy of Baseball Reference