Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates hoping Austin Meadows can provide offense at plate

Starling Marte’s injury will give a big opportunity to a Pittsburgh Pirates prospect, as Austin Meadows is coming up to fill his shoes in center field.

Starling Marte is a big reason why the Pittsburgh Pirates currently find themselves positioned atop the NL Central. Unfortunately, he’s headed to the disabled list with discomfort in his right side. That gives prospect Austin Meadows the chance to come up and grab a spot with the big league club.

Meadows will make his Major League debut for the Pirates against the San Diego Padres. Per reports, he’ll get the start in center field and will hit seventh in the order on Friday.

The Marte injury may be the immediate reason for Meadows’ call up, but this move was always coming soon. Meadows is already 23 years old, and he’s done a good job of handling AAA pitching on the young season. He’ll leave the Pirates’ AAA affiliate in Indianapolis hitting .294. There isn’t too much the young outfielder still has to prove in the minors.

The challenge for Meadows will be trying to play within himself. He can’t get caught up in the idea of trying to fill Marte’s shoes. It’s unlikely he’s going to immediately become the best hitter on the Pirates roster. He needs to concern himself with being a quality Major League starter until Marte is healthy enough to return to the lineup.

If he can hit the ball when during Marte’s absence he may be able to displace Gregory Polanco in right field. The 26-year-old has struggled a little at the plate this season. He does have eight home runs, but he’s only hitting .228 at the moment. Meadows can’t replicate that sort of power, but it’s possible he could give the Pirates a better batting average at that position.

The question of where Meadows might fit with Marte in the lineup is one for a different day. The immediate issue for the Pirates prospect is whether or not he can keep his team in first place.

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