Outfielder Austin Meadows quickly becomes new star of the Rays

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Rays outfielder Austin Meadows was one of the top prospects in the Pirates organization since being drafted in the first round in 2013. Seeing what's he's doing for the Rays makes you wonder how the Pirates gave up so quickly on the 23 year old. 

"I don't think you'd ever anticipate anybody doing what Austin Meadows has done in a week or two weeks," said Rays manager Kevin Cash.

Meadow hit .545 with four homers and 12 RBIs over a six-game stretch last week, which won him the title of American League Player of the Week.

"He was a guy that I watched in spring training from the opposition a couple years ago," said Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. "I knew he was a top prospect with them and I was like this dude can hit. This dude is the real deal. I watched him run. Watched him play defense all that."

Hamstring and oblique injuries hampered his development through his minor league career, which is where the Rays left him until the final two weeks of the 2018 season.

Is that where he discovered a new level to his game?

"That's kind of been the biggest trouble for me, staying on the field the past four or five years down in the minor leagues," said Meadows. "Being able to find what works for me to stay on the field has really helped me."

After making the trade last July, the Rays knew quickly what they had in Meadows. In January, Kevin Cash placed a call to Meadows telling him he had a spot on this team.

"It kind of helps my mind, just kind of helps me have that confidence knowing that I can play up here with these guys," said Meadows. "Knowing I was going to prepare myself for the big league season and the past offseason. You know mentally prepare, physically prepare for a big league season. We're here now and things are going really well."

In his short major league career, Meadows won Rookie the Month with the Pirates in 2018 and now AL Player of the Week with the Rays. He made history in Toronto, with Brandon Lowe, becoming the only pair of teammates to reach the 5th deck in the Rogers Center in the same game. 

"I did mine first so that's cool," laughed Meadows. "We just go back and forth about it and have fun with it. 

It's been a fast and fun start for the Rays' freshest new face.