Spring training is just around the corner, so it’s time to look at some Detroit Tigers storylines. We begin with the case of Parker Meadows.
Parker Meadows was mostly an afterthought this time last year. He was a high draft pick (2018, 2nd round) on the verge of being a bust. Meadows hit just .208/.290/.330 for the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2021, and his power was largely absent. But as he started his 2022 season back at West Michigan, Chris Brown and I noticed some changes that became clearer as the season went along.
In his conversation with Evan Petzold of the Freep.com ($), he chronicled his off-season workouts.
Meadows changed his mechanics. He focused on bat path, bat speed and repeatability with Georgia-based hitting instructor Shane Hopper. Shortening his swing and replacing a natural hitch with a movement that resembles a toe-tap enhanced his athleticism and adjustability in the batter’s box.
Meadows took about a month to adjust after his promotion to Double-A Erie. But from July 29th to the end of the season he was one of the best hitters in the Eastern League, batting .305/.387/.529 with a 147 wRC+. In other words, he was an on-base machine.
His walk rate was consistent with his career in the minors, but now he was hitting for power and average. My colleague Jerry over at Tigers Minor League Report dug deeper into the numbers.
Meadows may need some time in the minors
While it took a bit for Meadows to adjust to Double-A, fans may soon see him roam the same outfield as his brother Austin, possibly by the middle of the summer. Heading into spring training, we can probably slot Riley Greene, Austin Meadows, and Akil Baddoo as Detroit’s Opening Day starting outfield.
However, there’s a real chance Parker Meadows is the best defensive center fielder in the organization. His glove and range would make him an asset as a fourth outfielder, but his development isn’t finished. This isn’t a bat you want on the bench. Parker needs to play on a regular basis, and he probably will in Toledo. But he might force his way to Detroit sooner than fans realize.
Photo credit: GoErie.com