by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Pirates Austin Meadows has long been a heavily hyped prospect, though he’s failed to live up to the billing. That wasn’t more apparent than in 2017, when injury/suspensions seemed to clear a path to playing time but he failed to force the issue and take advantage. That’s all about to change, as news broke last night that with Starling Marte heading to the DL Meadows will be summoned to make his MLB debut.
Prior to the season we awarded him a “B” grade while ranking him third among Pittsburgh prospects (behind Mitch Keller and Cole Tucker). At the time we said:
There were injuries and suspensions, so the opportunity was there for Meadows to seize the moment. However he failed miserably and finished 2017 hitting .250 with 4 HR and 11 SB. His plate discipline isn’t bad (8.1% SwStr%), but will he be able to develop his power? Is there enough speed to make an impact? The skills indicate that there’s a potential 20/20 player, but at some point we need to see those skills translate to the field. He’s never hit more than 12 HR or stolen more than 21 bases in a season, though he’s still just 22-years old (he’ll turn 23 in May of ’18). Obviously we aren’t quite yet ready to lose all hope, but it’s impossible to view him in the same light that we once did.
He has rebounded in 2018, hitting .294 with 1 HR and 8 SB over 126 AB at Triple-A. He’s added 10 doubles showing that there’s a little bit of power to tap into (and while he could eventually develop into a 15-20 HR hitter thinking it’s suddenly going to develop in 2018 would be misguided), and he’s clearly been utilizing his speed more consistently.
That said, let’s not mistake Meadows for the next Billy Hamilton as Prospect 361 described his speed prior to the season:
He also has good speed – it’s not game-changing speed by any stretch, but he should be good for 20 stolen bases per season.
There’s nothing that stands out as unsustainable in his average, as the metrics behind it are solid:
- Strikeouts – 15.3%
- SwStr% – 9.3%
- BABIP – .330
That’s a solid makeup and it’s currently viewed as his best tool. However he’s a career .292 hitter in the minor leagues and owns a pedestrian .336 OBP in ’18 (he’s struggled to draw walks, with a 5.3% walk rate). You also have to wonder if he’s taking too big of a fly ball approach (40.0% in ’18) and if the strikeouts will spike at the highest level (we’d expect them to), meaning the average may not be impressive (.think .260ish).
At the end of the day what are we buying? There’s little power along with questions about how his speed will translate (especially if he’s hitting towards the bottom of the order and with a history of hamstring issues) and how big of an average he’ll deliver initially. That’s far too many questions, especially in shallower formats.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team League – Pass
- 12 Team League – Enough upside to stash on your bench
- 14+ Team League – Must Add
- NL-Only League – Must Add
- Keeper/Dynasty – Must Add
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Prospect 361
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here. Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists: