Pittsburgh Pirates: A Look at Austin Meadows’ Season

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

Austin Meadows entered his first full season at Triple-A rated as one of the best prospects in baseball.  Here is look at the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league outfielder’s season thus far.

At the beginning of the year, the expectation was that Andrew McCutchen would likely be dealt and be replaced by top prospect Austin Meadows.  Through the first month of the season, that plan did not seem like it would come to fruition. Andrew McCutchen did not look like he would be rebounding from his troubling 2016, as he was hitting around the Mendoza Line most of April.

Meanwhile, Meadows was putting up numbers for the Indianapolis Indians that suggested he was not ready for Triple-A, let alone the big leagues.  Through April, Meadows was batting a meager .195 with a .503 OPS in his 21 games played.  He also struck out 20 times in those games, and only produced three extra base hits.  In his career, he has struck out far less than one time per game, through April he was just about one strikeout per game.  Many fans started to question if the Pittsburgh Pirates should have dealt the highly rated prospect for Jose Quintana in the offseason.

However, while he struggled in April, Meadows took a big jump forward in May.  Maybe he struggled through April with the pressure of being one step away from the big leagues.  Or maybe it was that he knew how he was viewed in terms of being a highly rated prospect and was scuffling due to trying to hard.  Regardless, he flipped the switch after a poor first month.

For the month of May, he batted closer to what many expect his season numbers to look like by the end of the year. In the 27 games he played in the month of May, Meadows posted a batting average right at .300.  He also added a .358 on-base percentage and slugged the ball at a rate of .445, giving him an OPS of .804.  He also cut down on his strikeout rate, striking out15 times in the 27 games.  In addition to those numbers, he put up 12 extra base hits, made up of 10 doubles and two home runs.

More from Rum Bunter

With all the strides Meadows made in May, he has seemed to revert back to April production.  So far in June, he is hitting just .214.  Now obviously, this is better than his April average of .195, but still, he has not built on his strong May.  His strikeout per game played has risen, with him striking out 12 times through 14 games thus far.  However, he is getting on-base over 100 points higher than his batting average at .318.  He also has five extra base hits, two more than he had in all of April.  So it is not like he has completely reverted back to April.

Next: Chad Kuhl Has Pitched Better Than You Think

Austin Meadows, in terms of the timeline of his career, is a call away from the big leagues.  This very well could explain why he is struggling once again in June.  The magical Super Two date normally passes around the second or third week of June.  When that passes, teams start to call up their top prospects. This is not something new, and chances are most prospects know this.  Meadows might be pressing knowing that if he is performing at a high level he could be getting that call.  The issue is that he is not performing at that high level.  Hopefully, this is the case and not that he just is having trouble adjusting to the better competition at Triple-A.