With Austin Meadows set to make his Triple-A debut this weekend, let me drive the hype train a little further into the realm of possibility. Take a trip with me to uber potential city as I pose the question of is Austin Meadows the next Mike Trout? It seems far-fetched with Trout being arguably the best hitter in the game right now, but the similarities between Meadows and Trout are a lot closer than you’d think. And their career paths and hitting numbers throughout the minors are eerily similar. Let’s break it down.
First off, Meadows was actually a higher draft pick than Trout with Meadows being taken 9th overall by the Bucs in 2013 while the Angels took Trout four years earlier with the 25th overall pick in 2009. Both were tall, 200+ pound high school outfielders with a world of potential. Both scouting reports were along the same lines: 5-tool athletes, line drive hitter to all fields, good OF defense with Trout flashing the better speed and a 30-HR potential. If you read both scouting reports, Trout had plenty more question marks on his than Meadows.
Let’s look at their numbers side by side. Trout really set his name apart and climbed the prospect lists within his first couple seasons in the minors when he lit it up. Trout was a year ahead of Meadows age wise and played rookie ball at age 17 while Meadows was 18.
Rookie ball numbers
Trout: 187 PA’s, .360/.418/.506, .925 OPS and 15 XBH
Meadows: 189 PA’s, .294/.399/.519, .918 OPS and 21 XBH
Despite Trout’s high .360 average, Meadows actually posted about the same OPS and more extra-base hits with basically the same amount of plate appearances.
Trout: 368 PA’s, .362/.454/.526, .979 OPS and 32 XBH
Meadows: 165 PA’s, .322/.388/.486, .874 OPS and 17 XBH
For all the talk about how the Pirates don’t rush their prospects ever, they actually pushed Meadows faster than the Angles moved Trout at least in the lower levels of the minors. And this was the year Meadows missed a couple of months due to injury. Trout had more than double the amount of plate appearances, but less than double the amount of extra-base hits even though Trout gets Meadows here on his slash line.
Trout: 232 PA’s, .306/.388/.434, .821 OPS and 15 XBH
Meadows: 556 PA’s, .307/.357/.407, .764 OPS and 33 XBH
Meadows spends more time at High-A than Trout, but their slash lines are very similar.
Trout: 412 PA’s, .326/.414/.544, .958 OPS and 42 XBH
Meadows: 218 PA’s, .318/.373/.620, .993 OPS and 35 XBH
Trout puts double the time in at Double-A, but only has seven more extra-base hits than Meadows and loses in overall OPS and SLG. Meadows annihilated Eastern League pitching this season (stats include the 6 games from 2015 too at AA), which is what prompted his promotion to Triple-A even though it’s a little surprising after basically a half season at Altoona.
Trout got the call to the Majors in a September call-up after smoking Double-A in 2011 and struggled in 40 games at the ML level: .220/.281/.390. He started 2012 at Triple-A, tore it up in 20 games, was recalled to the Angels and has been the man since. Just for fun here’s his Triple-A numbers so we can see if Meadows performs around the same again: 93 PA’s, .403/.467/.623 for a 1.091 OPS. Meadows has mirrored Trout’s bat at every level so it’s not hard to imagine Meadows lighting up Triple-A as well.
Overall minor league numbers
Trout: 1,312 PA’s, .342/.425/.516, .941 OPS and 114 XBH
Meadows: 1,173 PA’s, .312/.378/.484, .862 OPS and 111 XBH
Despite Trout having 139 more plate appearances, Meadows hit just three extra-base hits fewer than Trout. And with Trout having developed that real power in the Majors, shockingly he only hit 23 home runs in his minor league career. How many has Meadows hit in his career? Yeah, 23. You’d think I made these numbers up, but they are 100 percent reality. Today if Trout doesn’t hit 23 home runs in the Majors in a season then something is wrong. He has developed into 30-40 legit HR power. Even if Meadows doesn’t hit for 40 plus, his gap power is real and could hit 20-30 in the show without question.
You never know what will happen when prospects go through the minors and how they’ll handle big league pitching, but this is a fantastic sign about who Meadows could eventually be. Let’s see how he handles Triple-A pitching as Trout did at age 20 (Meadows turned 21 in May), but Meadows is flying through the system leaving the Pirates with a huge decision coming up in the offseason of what to do with their crowded, top outfield in the game. What do you think…is Meadows the next Mike Trout?