Top draft pick Meadows has been a member of the Pirates all along
As Kenny Meadows snapped photos of the media assembled for his son's news conference, Staci Meadows clutched a folder containing a picture of Austin at age 4.
His T-ball team that year was named the Pirates, and in the photo, the pint-sized Meadows wears a black Pirates jersey and hat, the glove swallowing his tiny right hand. No one would have guessed that 14 years later Austin Meadows again would be wearing a Pirates hat and jersey, this time as a professional.
“It's overwhelming. I can't explain it,” Meadows said Friday after signing with the Pirates at PNC Park. “I started playing when I was 3 years old, and I'm eager for this to start.”
Meadows, 18, was the Pirates' first of two first-round draft picks, No. 9 overall, and received a $3.03 million bonus for signing, or the exact slot money for where he was selected. Meadows will begin his career with the Gulf Coast League Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.
“He's going to work extremely hard, but now he knows what he's working toward and getting out, getting playing, getting that experience, building relationships with his teammates and our coaches so when the time comes, we know him well enough to help him,” general manager Neal Huntington said.
As a senior outfielder at Grayson (Ga.) High School, Meadows hit .535 with 14 doubles, one triple, three home runs and 28 RBI and was named a 2013 Rawlings preseason first-team All-American.
Asked after whom he modeled his game and looked up to, Meadows said his father.
“He's been pushing me since I was little,” Meadows said. “I really got the work ethic and the tough mental attitude from him.”
Kenny Meadows laughed afterward, insisting he didn't pay his son for the compliment.
“Any parent would be proud that their son said that,” said the elder Meadows, who played baseball and football at Morehead State in Kentucky. “We just had a special relationship growing up, being able to work together. He's been real easy to coach. He's always been willing to listen and take everything in that I've offered. I've enjoyed coaching him and my other son, Parker, too.”
Austin Meadows doesn't get his athletic ability from just his father. Staci Meadows played college softball, first at Georgia Southern and then at Georgia State.
The Meadows family lives in Loganville, Ga., but Kenny Meadows' mother grew up in McKeesport. He remembers trips to Western Pennsylvania as a child to visit his grandparents, and he expected aunts, uncles and cousins to join them on Friday night at PNC Park to help celebrate.
Austin Meadows said he hadn't gotten the full tour of the ballpark, but he already knew one thing.
“I want to put (the ball) in the river,” he said. “That'd be pretty cool.”