• Twins MLB Draft Profile: Austin Meadows, OF

    Today, we continue our look at players that the Minnesota Twins could consider drafting with the #4 overall pick in next month's MLB Draft. Today we check out an uber-talented prep player from a baseball hotbed!

    Who Is This Guy?

    It can be argued that outfielder Austin Meadows is the top-rated high school position player in the 2013 MLB draft. It can also be argued that Austin Meadows is not the top-rated high school position player in the 2013 MLB draft from Loganville, Georgia. Depending on which scout you talk to and on which day, either Meadows (from Grayson High School) or outfielder Clint Frazier (from Loganville High School) might be ranked higher.

    Georgia has been a baseball hotbed for the past several years. Twenty players have been drafted out of high school in Georgia over the last six drafts. That doesnít include several players drafted from Peach State colleges such as Georgia, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State. The Twins used their second round pick in 2010 on Fayetteville, Georgia, shortstop Niko Goodrum. Just last year, the Twins used the second overall pick on Appling County High School (Baxley, Georgia) outfielder Byron Buxton. Among those drafted by other teams are Jason Heyward (Braves), Zach Wheeler, Tim Beckham, Delino DeShields, Jr., and Dwight Smith, Jr. At least two more Georgia prepsters will be added to that list in 2013.

    Austin Meadows, a 6-3, 215 pound outfielder, is a tremendous athlete. He has all five tools. He can hit for average and power, though these skills still need to further develop. This year, he has hit .535/.655/.930 with 14 doubles, a triple and four home runs. He has very good speed, demonstrated by his 17 stolen bases this year. He has been timed at about 6.3 seconds in the 60 yard dash. He is also known as a good center fielder. He also had nearly a 2:1 K:BB ratio this year, showing a good eye at the plate. The one question I keep hearing is whether he has the arm to stay in centerfield, so he more likely profiles in left field, though he has enough power potential that his arm might not be much of an issue.



    As mentioned, Meadows is a tremendous athlete. He played basketball until his freshman season. He played football through his junior season but focused on baseball for his senior year. Scouts also like to look at a playerís genetics. Meadow's dad was a three-sport athlete in high school who went to Morehead State on a full football scholarship. He also was a walk-on in baseball. He started in both sports all four years. Meadowsí mother received a fast-pitch softball scholarship to Georgia Southern.

    Who Could He Be?

    Meadows is very raw, but he has the potential, the upside, to hit for average and power while being a decent outfielder whose speed and arm may push him to left field. Best case scenario, he becomes a Josh Hamilton-like talent. Jay Bruce is another player who he could be compared to. Player comps seem always to be with all-star caliber players, rightly or not; when talking about what Meadows could be, the generic answer is a middle of the lineup power threat.

    How Soon Could He Be Playing In Target Field?

    When the Twins took Byron Buxton with the #2 pick a year ago, there was talk about him having a fairly raw hit tool. He signed quickly enough last year to spend time in both the GCL and Elizabethton. Since Meadows is not a Boras client, it is feasible that he might not wait until the deadline to sign. If so, itís possible that he could play for both Twins' rookie league affiliates and start 2014 in Cedar Rapids.

    Because he is fairly raw, the assumption should be that he would spend all of 2014 with the Kernels. If he were to proceed up the Mauer path, he would split 2015 between Ft. Myers and New Britain and jump to the Twins in 2016. Thatís the absolute best case scenario. Most likely, he would not debut until later in the 2017 season.

    If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Messed Up BecauseÖ

    Although the Twins traded Denard Span and Ben Revere, and Josh Willingham will be a free agent following the 2014 season, the Twins organization does have some outfield depth. Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia are already in the big leagues. Joe Benson is still in the picture. Byron Buxton and Adam Walker should end the 2013 season in Ft. Myers. Max Kepler could still develop. There is frequent talk that infield prospects such as Miguel Sano and Travis Harrison could move to the outfield. Although Best Player Available is generally conceded to be the best strategy-we donít know what the needs of an organization will be in three or four years- outfield is not a position of need at this time.

    Despite the success that the Twins have had with athletic outfielders drafted out of high school in previous drafts, there is always a lot of risk when drafting 18 year olds and giving them $4 million to sign. Meadows is raw and could develop into a star, or his skills may never reach the potential that scouts see in him. Thatís the nature of the draft and it is especially true with raw high school talent.

    Also, from the reports that I have read and people I have talked to, Clint Frazier may have more power potential and a better arm. There is a friendly competition between the two which may force the best out of each.

    If The Twins Draft This Guy, They Nailed It BecauseÖ

    Whoever they Twins draft, it will be because they have a conviction that the draftee is the best player to help the organization. The front office knows the importance of getting such high picks right. If Meadows reaches that Josh Hamilton-like potential, he is a guy you make room for on a roster. Meadows' potential is to be able to hit for high average and a lot of power. An outfield of Meadows (should he meet his potential), Buxton (should he meet his potential) and Hicks (should he meet his potential), with Arcia (should he meet his potential) DH'ing, sounds like a pretty strong group, especially if Miguel Sano and Travis Harrison can stay in the infield (and meet........).

    SUMMARY:

    Many thought it was a mistake when the Twins didn't draft a pitcher in the 2012 draft and instead used the #2 pick to draft a raw, athletic outfielder out of Georgia. Byron Buxton has, so far, done a great job of proving the Twins right. In 2013, it might seem to be equally silly for the Twins to consider drafting another raw, athletic outfielder (also from Georgia). If the Twins are convinced that he can be a four or five tool, difference-making type of hitter, then they absolutely should draft Meadows. If they have enough questions about whether he can reach those levels though, they should absolutely go in another direction.

    From my research and discussions, Iím not convinced that he is near the same level as Byron Buxton, so I think the odds of the Twins taking him with the 4th overall pick are likely pretty low.

    PREVIOUS Draft Profiles:

    LHP Sean Manaea - 5/20/13
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins MLB Draft Profile: Austin Meadows, OF started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. mlhouse's Avatar
      mlhouse -
      It is premature to make any claims about Buxton being the right choice, although he is playing well in Low-A. The benefits though of drafting a college pitcher like Gausman last year is that Buxton is about 4 years from even tasting the major league level and the college arm could have been in the rotation last season if we really wanted to fast track them. I really think that this year we need to go with a college starter, either the left hander Manaea or the right hander Bredan Shipley. Manaea has more upside but the injury issue really scares me given some of the problems we have had with Gibson and WImmer. I think Shipley could be a very good #2-3 starter and could be moved along quickly.
    1. cmb0252's Avatar
      cmb0252 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      It is premature to make any claims about Buxton being the right choice, although he is playing well in Low-A. The benefits though of drafting a college pitcher like Gausman last year is that Buxton is about 4 years from even tasting the major league level and the college arm could have been in the rotation last season if we really wanted to fast track them. I really think that this year we need to go with a college starter, either the left hander Manaea or the right hander Bredan Shipley. Manaea has more upside but the injury issue really scares me given some of the problems we have had with Gibson and WImmer. I think Shipley could be a very good #2-3 starter and could be moved along quickly.
      With pitch counts there is zero chance that a pitcher last year would be pitching in the bigs. While Gausman will pitch this year would he really have turned the Twins into a winner? Gausman is on a pitch count this year, would be on one if he was a Twin too, so how much value is a rookie pitcher going to give you? I'm a big fan of Gausman and would have been fine with the Twins drafting him last year but the jump from AAA to the bigs is massive, especially for pitchers.

      Under this type of thinking process college guys will always be better than HS players because they give immediate value. Problem with that is if for some reason they don't make it to the bigs as quick as you hope, ohh I don't know Wimmers/Gibson/Levi, value is lost. Once again, if you just prefer Gausman to Buxton on pure value I understand. If not, than give me the more talented one any day.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmb0252 View Post
      Put me in the Frazier camp as well. Meadows has some great tools but no one, this year or maybe any year, has the bat speed like Frazier. One thing to note; Meadows is about six months younger than both Frazier and Stewart.
      One word of caution on Clint Frazier. He appears to play the game really hard, with a chip on his shoulder, like Dan Gladden or Bryce Harper. For that reason he may not be a good fit for a team of polite gentlemen. Could be that a guy like Frazier would feel more comfortable on a team that embraces fierce competitors. A team with a tradition of hard-nosed baseball, say the Boston Redsox, might better utilize a man with the intensity of Clint Frazier.

      Austin Meadows seems more polite.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Baseball America's Jim Callis's new mock draft has Meadows going 10th overall to Toronto:

      Mock Draft 2.0: Shades Of Gray - BaseballAmerica.com
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlhouse View Post
      It is premature to make any claims about Buxton being the right choice, although he is playing well in Low-A. The benefits though of drafting a college pitcher like Gausman last year is that Buxton is about 4 years from even tasting the major league level and the college arm could have been in the rotation last season if we really wanted to fast track them. I really think that this year we need to go with a college starter, either the left hander Manaea or the right hander Bredan Shipley. Manaea has more upside but the injury issue really scares me given some of the problems we have had with Gibson and WImmer. I think Shipley could be a very good #2-3 starter and could be moved along quickly.
      I think you will be surprised at how fast Buxton moves through the minors.
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