The Pittsburgh Pirates liked what they saw from No. 45 overall prospect Austin Meadows over the past two-and-a-half weeks, but the outfielder received his ticket back to the International League Monday.
Making their first significant round of cuts since Grapefruit League action began, the Pirates optioned Meadows and right-hander Clay Holmes (their No. 19 prospect) to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. The organization also reassigned shortstop Cole Tucker (No. 5) and outfielders Bryan Reynolds (No. 6) and Jason Martin (No. 22) to Minor League camp and made three other cuts.
Meadows, who turns 23 on May 3, was not expected to break camp with Pittsburgh, but probably will reach the Majors this season.
"Saw some very good development from him. Health, first and foremost," general manager Neal Huntington told MLB.com. "Showed us why we're excited about what he can become in the future. Get him out to Triple-A, get him some at-bats, get him some confidence, let him learn some things at that level and prepare himself to come help us win games in Pittsburgh."
Over nine Grapefruit League games, the 2013 first-rounder drove in eight runs, going 7-for-19 (.368). He homered, tripled, doubled twice, walked twice and stole a base.
He batted .250/.311/.359 with 23 extra-base hits and 11 steals over 72 International League games last year, but staying healthy has always been the issue for the Georgia native. Hamstring issues limited his action in 2014 and 2017, and he suffered an orbital bone fracture in a freak accident during Spring Training in 2016. That combined with another hamstring problem limited him to only 87 games that season, and an oblique strain kept him from going to the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time.
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Tucker, 21, was drafted in the first round the year after Meadows. He went 1-for-11 with a stolen base in 10 spring games. Reynolds came over from San Francisco in the Andrew McCutchen deal on Jan. 15, and Martin arrived from Houston in the Gerrit Cole trade two days earlier. All three are likely to open the year with Double-A Altoona in the Eastern League.
Left-hander Jack Leathersich was optioned to Indianapolis, and right-hander Damien Magnifico and catcher Christian Kelley were reassigned to Minors camp.