Meadows has surgery to repair orbital fracture

Pirates prospect suffered injury on March 8 playing catch

Meadows has surgery to repair orbital fracture

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates outfield prospect Austin Meadows had surgery on Saturday to repair an orbital fracture of his right eye.

Meadows will return home for about a week of complete rest, the club announced, before returning to the Pirate City training complex. According to the Pirates, his estimated time of return to full baseball activity is six to eight weeks.

Meadows suffered the injury on March 8, when a ball struck him in the eye while he was playing catch. The club's initial battery of tests revealed an orbital fracture, and a follow-up visit with Dr. Randall Beatty in Pittsburgh confirmed the diagnosis. Beatty performed the surgery on Saturday at Allegheny General Hospital.

The club's No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, Meadows is expected to play for Double-A Altoona when he returns to the field. The 20-year-old center fielder, the ninth overall pick in the 2013 Draft, hit .307/.357/.407 with seven home runs, 54 RBIs and 20 steals in 121 games for Class A Advanced Bradenton last season.

Last year was essentially the first full professional season for Meadows, baseball's No. 20 overall prospect. He took a big step forward last year on his path to Pittsburgh, where he might have trouble finding a spot in the Pirates' crowded outfield.

Broadcast on Meadows' injury

Andrew McCutchen is under club control for three more years. Starling Marte is signed through 2021, accounting for two extremely affordable club options. Gregory Polanco won't be eligible for free agency until 2020.

It's hard to find a place anytime soon for Meadows or outfielder Harold Ramirez, the Pirates' No. 6 prospect.

"You remind them of the history, whether it's dark ages ago when I was with Cleveland and Richie Sexson hit 30 home runs in Triple-A and his reward was the opportunity to go back to Triple-A and hit another 15 in the first half of the season before the need arose," general manager Neal Huntington said recently. "Or, a more recent example, look at the Cardinals. They've been able to give their good young players additional experience in the Minor Leagues, whether it's innings or at-bats, and that's a good thing.

"I understand patience is a difficult word in professional sports, but our hope is that we're able to allow those guys time and experience to develop so when they come up here the transition is so much smoother."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.