Meadows went 1-for-2 with a solo home run and a walk in a win over the Blue Jays on Saturday.
The big fly off lefty Ryan Borucki -- which barely snuck by the fair side of the right-field pole -- was Meadows' first home run in a Rays uniform. He last homered June 2 when he was still wearing Pirates garb. The 23-year-old figures to be a major part of Tampa Bay's long-term plans, considering he was part of the haul in the Chris Archer trade and his still-burgeoning talent as a hitter. He's added five stolen bases to the .289/.321/.451, five-homer line in his first 184 big-league plate appearances, so fantasy players would be wise to speculate on him in the late rounds of 2019 mixed drafts, though they'll have to watch how Tampa Bay's outfield and designated hitter pictures shake out heading into March.
Despite a previous remark from manager Kevin Cash that Meadows' playing time would likely be sparse, he's gone 3-for-7 with a double, three RBI, a stolen base and two runs over the last two games.
Meadows stepped in as replacement for Ji-Man Choi at designated hitter in Friday night's game when the latter exited with knee soreness and racked up all of his aforementioned production in that contest. While he went 0-for-4 in Saturday's loss to the Blue Jays, the well-rounded effort the prior night offers a glimpse at Meadows' diverse skill set. That performance seemingly earned him a start in right field Saturday, and he could be set for more playing time than originally envisioned over the last week of the season if the Rays are eliminated from postseason contention.
Meadows, who was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Thursday, may not see much playing time during what remains of the regular season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "He's a guy that's talented, it's been talked about, he's kind of done it for a long time,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "We feel it's about time for him to cut loose and open up on his major-league career. Right now I think the lane is a little blocked with the way we're playing."
As Cash implied, the projected lack of opportunity doesn't stem from any shortage of anticipation on the part of the organization with respect to what Meadows brings to the field. Rather, it's the fact that Kevin Kiermaier, Tommy Pham and Mallex Smith are playing so well -- and that the team has several options at designated hitter -- that projects to keep Meadows on the bench more often than not over the final week-plus of the campaign. The 23-year-old is expected to make a much bigger impact next season, considering he held his own over his first 49 big-league games with the Pirates (.292 average, .792 OPS) and then slashed .344/.396/.771 across 106 plate appearances with Bulls following the trade deadline deal that brought him to the Rays.
Meadows will be called up from Triple-A Durham on Thursday.
Meadows remained at the Triple-A level over the first couple weeks of this month, helping power the Bulls to the International League title. Since coming over to Tampa Bay's organization in late July, Meadows has slashed .302/.359/.636 with 10 home runs and 25 RBI in 36 games. He did play in 49 games for the Pirates earlier this year, hitting .292 with a .795 OPS during his first taste of the big leagues. With Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier and Mallex Smith patrolling the Rays' outfield, it's unlikely Meadows will see regular playing time, but look for the 23-year-old to receive some opportunities down the stretch.
Meadows' two-hit performance Saturday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre helped lead Triple-A Durham to the International League title. He will remain in the minors at least through Tuesday's Triple-A Championship game against Memphis.
Meadows has been stuck in the minors since being traded as part of the package for Chris Archer at the deadline. He looks very much big-league ready, as he's hit .344/.394/.771 with 10 homers in 27 games for Durham since the trade. He has a shot to earn at least a few at-bats for the Rays following Tuesday's game if called up, but Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier and Mallex Smith have the starting outfield spots locked down.
|9/30/2018 vs Toronto|
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|Minor League Batting Stats|
|2014||AFX-West Virginia Power||38||146||18||47||13||1||3||15||14||30||2||3||.388||.486||.322|
|2017||ASX-West Virginia Black||5||21||2||5||1||0||0||3||3||3||0||0||.333||.286||.238|