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Lexington First-Hand: August 23rd, 2012

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Today, I take a look at OF Brandon Meredith, a player who is quietly making his mark with the Legends this year. I'd like to also point out a very nice interview by MLB Reports from 2011 which gives a little more insight into what makes Brandon tick. Check it out.

Brandon Christopher Meredith
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 2", Weight: 225 lb.
Born: December 19, 1989 in Chula Vista, California, US (Age 22)
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 15th round of the 2008 MLB June Amateur Draft from Montgomery HS (San Diego, CA) and theHouston Astros in the 6th round of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from San Diego State University (San Diego, CA).

2011 21 Tri-City NYPL A- HOU 35 144 119 24 29 7 4 1 10 7 3 19 29 .244 .371 .395 .766 47 3 5 1 0 0
2012 22 Lexington SALL A HOU 84 360 307 52 86 19 4 15 48 11 3 42 82 .280 .379 .515 .893 158 9 8 1 2 0
2 Seasons 119 504 426 76 115 26 8 16 58 18 6 61 111 .270 .376 .481 .858 205 12 13 2 2 0

Introduction: Perhaps the hitter with the most raw power on the Legends (now that Deshields has moved on), Brandon Meredith has made his mark while barely making a sound beyond the Lexington area. Of note is the assessment written by TCB writer/supervising editor David Coleman in June of last year, which should be read in conjunction with this post. The former San Diego State outfielder made quite an impression in his time as a college hitter, but will his numbers this season allay fears that he might not be able to fully adjust to wood bats in the pros? So far, that answer seems to be 'yes'.

Batting: Meredith is impressively built, giving the impression that he might just as well be a defensive end in the NFL as an outfielder in pro baseball. Still, this is nothing new to MLB (see just about any cleanup hitter in the Majors for examples), and Meredith has used his plus power to great effect.Having gone .280/15 HR/48 RBI/19 2B in 84 games seems to illustrate said power. Meredith takes a wide stance, with both feet turned slightly back toward the catcher. He starts his hands just above shoulder height, pointing the bat head significantly toward the pitcher he's about to assault. One thing I notice about his at-bats is that he never, EVER seems to swing at a ball on which he doesn't fully intend to cause serious, irreparable harm. He takes a sizable stride without using a high leg kick and almost always swings for the big fly, though he makes consistent contact and draws enough walks to keep his OBP nearly 100 points higher than his BA. His OPS of .893 is 172 points above league average and 65 points ahead of current #2 on the roster, 3B Matt Duffy. His swing plane is fairly level, with just a slightly upward lift at the end, producing high line drives and more than his share of extra base hits. His hitting away from home has been significantly better than at The Bank (.300, 12, 31 in away games vs. .244, 3, 17 at home), and his second half BA is 98 points higher than his first half performance (.218, 1, 12 in first half; .316, 14, 36 in second half), so consistency this year has been elusive overall. This is his first year in Class A, however, and he appears to have hit his stride. While he is hitting .147 in his last 10 games (5-47), I wouldn't expect this to carry much farther.

Fielding: This is where we run into issues. While Meredith is very strong and runs well for someone with a 6'2", 225 frame, he often shows stiff actions in the field and his routes could use some work. He's certainly capable of making the flashy play, but don't expect it to happen every day. He has at least an average arm for left but his less-than-fluid motion in the outfield is disconcerting in that left is basically where he'll have to play if he's not eventually moved to first. At present, he has ample power for first base, but he will need considerable work to be a candidate for that position. With some work on his flexibility he could be a left fielder with at least average range and an above-average arm; otherwise, he's a 1B at best, a DH at worst. He isn't afraid to give up the body on a fielding play, as he shows the same aggression in the field (selectively) as he does at the plate. The way I see it, he'll probably settle in at DH with occasional starts in left and/or first.

Baserunning: Meredith is also fairly aggressive on the basepaths (see a pattern developing, here?), and will more than occasionally take the extra base on head-first slides seemingly daring you to throw him out. His straight-line speed is better than average, and he gets decent leads and jumps. He won't steal a ton of bases but his percentages will probably be above average for years to come. Think 10-15 steals with a 70% success rate, and that's what you should expect at his peak. His athleticism will be limited if he doesn't work more on agility and flexibility than strength training.

Intangibles: As far as I've seen, Meredith is a 'call em as I see em' kind of guy, which seems to match his playing style. He carries himself with a quiet calm, focusing his aggression (again, that word) on moments in the game which require actual motion (batting, fielding, baserunning: see the connection?), and generally seems to appear as if he has an 'I belong here' look on his face. This confidence is well-deserved, in my opinion, but as this is only Class A ball we'll have to reserve final judgement until he climbs the ladder. Personally, I can see him making the jump to AA next year. I wouldn't expect him to have trouble adjusting, mentally. He knows he's earned the right to be here. He will likely be a quiet leader, if he is in fact looked upon as a leader at all.

Overall: Meredith is, more or less, what he appears to be and where he seems to belong, this year. If he makes the Majors, I can see him becoming a power-hitting part-time starter and bench hitter, at least, and a starting LF with average range and an average glove at most. As long as he's with the Astros, he has plenty of opportunity to prove himself. He'll definitely need to get more flexible in order to maximize his chances, because right now that's the biggest physical negative that I've seen. Also of note: while he is obviously very muscular, he is carrying that musculature on a somewhat smaller frame than one would expect. Basically, he's not as "big-boned" as you'd expect, so you could say that he's close to being over-developed, physically. Anyway, I digress. If he hits his potential, think .280 with 15-20 homers and 75 RBIs at the top end. Right now, there's still work to be done if he is to hit that peak.