Prospect Meadows excels in full nine innings vs. Braves

Outfielder triples, scores run in Bucs' Grapefruit League win

Prospect Meadows excels in full nine innings vs. Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It isn't even your proverbial big league cup of coffee. A sip of decaf, maybe. To future Pirates, however, it is the nectar of their nascent careers.

Austin Meadows received the treat Sunday, starting in right field and playing the entirety of the Bucs' 4-2 Grapefruit League victory over the Braves.

"Oh, this is a great opportunity," said Meadows, a Pirates' first-round pick and the overall No. 9 selection in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. "I really enjoyed being out there, and fortunate to play all nine innings. I had a lot of fun, and I want to thank the Pirates for letting me come over here."

The Pirates, in turn, want to thank Meadows for banging the third-inning triple that turned into their first run -- and was Pittsburgh's only hit in six innings off Shelby Miller.

Meadows ripped the drive to the 385-foot mark in the right-center notch of Champion Stadium and pulled into third standing up.

"Stand-up triples are real fun," he said through a broad smile.

The fun has been spread among numerous prospects frequently paged from the Minor League camp at Pirate City to fill out game rosters for Grapefruit League games.

Catcher Reese McGuire, the Pirates' other 2013 first-round pick -- No. 14 overall -- got a clutch pinch-hit RBI double a few days ago.

Top Prospects: McGuire, PIT

"Just being able to come over here and watch big leaguers in action is an awesome experience," McGuire said. "You learn a lot talking to the players in the dugout. Fun time."

Neal Huntington, the Bucs' general manager, and manager Clint Hurdle may get even bigger kicks out of seeing the youngsters under a big league sun than the players themselves.

"It's an absolute blast," Huntington said. "It's a great opportunity for them to come over and get a quick taste of what Major League Spring Training is all about. If everything goes as planned and they make camp, the awe factor is eliminated, and they can just come play."

"It takes me back to when I was starting out," Hurdle said. "It's giving these young men some exposure. For Meadows to rifle a ball off a really good Major League pitcher … that's a feel-good for eveybody in the organization, including the Minor League development guys who've worked with him."

Meadows, McGuire and possibly other youngsters are in for an even bigger thrill: They are likely to be on the Pirates' travel roster for the final two exhibition games, on April 3-4 in Philadephia's Citizens Bank Ballpark.

"So they can play with the second deck and the lights and the bigger crowds," Hurdle said.

Added Huntington: "That's why Philadelphia is one of my favorite things to do. It gives those young players a chance to experience a second deck for maybe the first time in their careers."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.