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MLB Rookie Report: Austin Meadows, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

A top-flight prospect in the Pirates' organization, Meadows has been drawing attention since he set foot on a minor-league field.

Born in Atlanta, Meadows grew up in Loganville, a small town on the border of Walton and Gwinnett counties. Meadows was heading to Clemson before the Pirates made him the ninth-overall selection in the 2013 MLB Draft. His signing bonus was just a shade north of 3 million. For this sort of talent, the Bucs may have found a bargain.

As a left-handed batter with tools that all grade out as average to above-average, Meadows was still had some physical projectability remaining when he entered the pro ranks. At 6'3", 200, Meadows has shown gap-to-gap power with the ability to hit for high average. He gets excellent leverage in his swing and shows very good bat control, generating line-drive power and plenty of extra-base hits.

While some of this present power will eventually translate into home runs at the higher levels, Meadows is not a "classic" slugger. With his size and ability to make frequent contact, there may be a sense that he will become a middle-of-the-order power bat. While he will certainly be a dependable run producer at the ML level, many of those runs will be driven in on doubles and opposite-field hits.

Meadows has a good eye and will collect more than his share of walks. He should adjust quickly to Triple-A pitchers (which is likely where he will be in 2017), and the exposure will do him good.

In the outfield, Meadows is a competent fielder. He generally takes solid routes and reads the ball well off the bat. His arm is probably his weakest tool, at this point, but it won't hurt him. A move to first base in the next 3-5 years would not be a surprise, but his bat will play there as well.

On the bases, Meadows has above-average speed and judgment. As he advances up the chain, he will still likely pick up double-digit steal totals with a high success rate. As long as he doesn't start living in the weight room, he'll be able to do so for many years to come. Of course, as his bat develops, he'll be counted on a lot less for that.

The biggest asset Meadows has is his natural athleticism; physically-comparable players are often productive batters for many years. With his frame and size, he may be tempted to bulk up. There's always a trade-off for that; what he would gain in power, he would lose in flexibility and mobility. Meadows has above-average raw power, already, and would be best-served by a little moderation in his workouts.

At the moment, this is a prospect who is very likely to produce at the ML level. That's without taking into account his development over the next year or two. It would be safe to say that 20+ HR per season, with around 35 doubles, 10-15 steals and 90+ RBI are a safe bet for this particular prospect. Honestly, barring a catastrophic injury, I can't envision anything less than 4th OF/part-time starter for him. To me, that's his absolute floor. Expect high batting averages and healthy slash lines, overall.

There is very little risk involved in players like Meadows, and though there is no such thing as a "can't miss" player, he comes awfully close.