The Pirates have spent two decades searching for players to help get them into the playoffs. Austin Meadows probably won't make it to Pittsburgh in time to help end the drought, but if and when he arrives, he may be just the man to help the Bucs become October regulars.
After helping the Gulf Coast League Pirates win a division title, Pittsburgh's No. 4 prospect bashed a solo homer and drew three walks Wednesday night as Jamestown beat State College, 9-4, to secure the New York-Penn League Wild Card berth.
The Jammers edged Lowell for the final postseason spot and will face the Spikes again in a best-of-3 semifinal series beginning Friday in Jamestown.
Wednesday's game was Meadows' fifth in the New York-Penn League. The ninth overall pick in this year's Draft debuted with the Jammers on Aug. 31 and homered in an 8-6 win at Williamsport. He collected three hits in his next game, two in each of the two that followed and is batting .529 with a 1.519 OPS in five contests.
Meadows' solo shot in the third inning off State College starter Willy Paulino (2-3) extended Jamestown's lead to 4-0.
"He was actually pitching away the whole night with the two-seam [fastball]," Meadows said. "He threw the first one for a ball, then the second pitch was a strike I swung and missed at outside. I was looking outside and just reacted inside. He threw it inside and I was able to get the barrel in to the ball."
Meadows and fellow first-round pick Reese McGuire were named to the Gulf Coast League All-Star team earlier Wednesday. The 18-year-old outfielder played 43 games with the Bucs' Rookie-level affiliate and hit .294 with five homers and a .918 OPS in his first professional experience.
The Atlanta native said most of the lessons he's learned during his first pro season have been off the field.
"It's just a good feeling, especially coming out here and not knowing what to expect," he said. "Getting used to life in the GCL, used to the whole schedule. Pretty much every day, you have to be as consistent as you can.
"The factors outside of baseball, like being away from home, friends, family, you have to push yourself through the hard times. Especially when you're slumping, there's nobody to go to. You have to be as consistent as you can."
McGuire, who joined Meadows on the trip from Florida to Jamestown, scored twice in Wednesday's clincher. Pirates No. 18 prospect Jin-De Jhang reached base three times and drove in three runs.
In other clinchings:
Idaho Falls 12, Orem 7
Royals No. 7 prospect Hunter Dozier homered and drove in three runs as the Chukars nailed down the Pioneer League South Division second-half title. Cody Stubbs added a grand slam in the fifth inning, while Mauricio Ramos and Dominique Taylor each had three hits for Idaho Falls.
The Chukars went 21-13 in the second half, eliminating Orem by building a 4 1/2-game lead. Box score»
Great Falls 9, Missoula 6 (10 innings)
The Voyagers plated three runs in the 10th inning to take the Pioneer League North Division second-half crown. Corey Thompson provided the decisive blow with a go-ahead two-run triple before scoring on Trey Wimmer's single.
Great Falls held off first-half champ Helena with a 24-9 second-half record. Box score»