Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Top Draft Pick Sets His Sights on Quick Ascent

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Top Draft Pick Sets His Sights on Quick Ascent

Article excerpt

As general manager Neal Huntington took his seat Friday afternoon, he reflected upon the significance of the day's event.

"We get to do this for a second time this year," he said. "It's a good day."

Huntington and the Pirates introduced center fielder Austin Meadows, the No. 9 overall pick in this year's amateur draft, at PNC Park after Meadows passed a physical and signed his contract. Last week, the Pirates signed high school catcher Reese McGuire, their other first-round pick.

"I think we're in a good spot as an organization," Huntington said. "We're doing well at the major league level, we're doing well in the draft, we're doing well in the player development."

Meadows, 18, joined Huntington on the podium with a No. 13 Pirates jersey buttoned over a black Pirates polo. His parents, Kenny and Staci, and younger brother Parker joined him.

Meadows' signing came with the Pirates tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in baseball. They entered Friday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers 18 games above .500.

"It's fun, especially to come at this time when they're tied for first in the major leagues," Meadows said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what else there is to come. I'm going to work hard and try to get there as fast as I can."

Meadows will start his journey to the majors with the rookie- level Gulf Coast League Pirates, where McGuire was also assigned. Meadows said he spoke to McGuire about the schedule of GCL play.

Meadows and McGuire are both under contact with two weeks remaining before the July 12 signing deadline, allowing them time to get a half-season or so of professional play under their belts in their draft year. In the past, the mid-August signing deadline made it tough for draftees to play in their draft year, except in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League.

"I cannot imagine being 18 or 21 and being dropped into a 144- game season with one or two days off a month," Huntington said. "It's unfair to keep the players who have had to go through that. …

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