Meadows is expected to start the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic reports.
With only 457 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, it's no surprise that the outfielder is ticketed for the minors. The 22-year-old has played in only 168 games the last two seasons and hasn't looked great when healthy. He slashed .250/.311/.359 in 284 Triple-A at-bats last summer. That said, he's in position to make his major-league debut at some point in 2018, provided he can stay healthy and produce for Indy.
As expected, the move was made to protect Meadows -- who is viewed as the team's top prospect -- from the Rule 5 draft. He's coming off a disappointing 2017 campaign during which he hit just .250/.311/.359 in 72 games for Triple-A Indianapolis. He also dealt with hamstring and oblique injuries that limited him. The highly-touted prospect should compete for a spot on the Pirates' Opening Day roster, though the team may opt to start him out at Indianapolis once again.
Meadows (oblique) was placed on the 7-day disabled list at Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday.
The roster move effectively ends Meadows' season, marking the second straight year that an oblique strain cost him time in September. Even if health hadn't been a factor, it's uncertain if Meadows would have received a September callup to the Pirates, as he had hit a tepid .250/.311/.359 over 312 plate appearances with Indianapolis before being shut down with the injury.
The outfielder could miss additional playing time due to the injury. "I wouldn't say it's serious, but I would say we're going to probably take a little harder look at it than we did last time," Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. Meadows had six hits in 15 at-bats since returning from the disabled list. The organization is looking into winter ball for the oft-injured prospect.
Though the Pirates are down an everyday outfielder in Gregory Polanco (hamstring) and lost his primary replacement, Adam Frazier, to a hamstring injury in Sunday's game against the Reds, there doesn't seem to be any momentum to start Meadows' service clock. Widely regarded as the Pirates' top prospect, Meadows has submitted a lackluster campaign with Triple-A Indianapolis, hitting .250 with 23 extra-base hits in 312 plate appearances. The Pirates may want to see him experience more success at the Triple-A level before giving him his first taste of the big leagues.
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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|