It seems like every class has that one five-tool outfielder type that goes near the top of the draft. Last year it was Byron Buxton, in 2011 it was Bubba Starling, in 2010 it was Bryce Harper, and so on. This year, the player that most fits that bill is Austin Meadows, a Georgia prep star who has been on the radar for a long time. Standing 6'4" with long legs and an advanced build, Meadows makes an instant impression based on his presence alone.
However, Meadows isn't all style and no substance. His tools on both sides of the ball are undeniable. He's remarkably fluid for a player of his height. His actions in the outfield are outstanding, he accelerates impressively, takes long strides and covers a lot of ground. Though his frame isn't that of the traditional center fielder, he has more than enough game to patrol the position as a pro unless he maxes out his frame and instead becomes a plus defender in right field.
Whether or not he has to move to right field, his arm is going to be an asset. He has a quick release and arm speed that generates great zip on his throws, and he projects to have a plus arm as he fills out and it is currently an above-average trait. Meadows, like Starling and Harper, should be a fantastic corner outfielder later in his career once he outgrows center, if he ever does. His speed is significant enough that he could stick there long term, he grades out as a 60 runner right now.
For all of his tools on defense, Meadows is even more attractive as a hitter. His big frame and broad shoulders move in harmony generating easy plus power. He has pop to all fields and projects to hit plenty of home runs as he continues to add strength. Many consider power Meadows's best tool, and it's certainly his most advanced trait at this point.
In addition to his punch, Meadows is also very exciting as a potential hitter for average. His swing his explosive and smooth- he's quick to the ball and very level through his stroke. He doesn't sacrifice contact to hit for power, and his hands are active and help him barrel the ball consistently. He generates a lot of loft and extends fully with his long arms.
Meadows is the total package. He projects to impact the game in all phases and doesn't have a real weakness in his profile. His tools across the board are above average to plus, and he has true star potential in the outfield. Though he's less of a shiny new toy than some of the other top prospects because of how consistently he's been ranked highly over the last year-plus, but he remains one of the ten best talents in this class, and would have little trouble being selected in the top half of the first round in any draft class.
I think Justin Maxwell is a good thought here. Meadows, though his swing is fantastic, isn't yet as polished as a contact hitter as he is with the rest of his game, but his defense and power will surely carry him to the majors, and his build and arm strength are reminiscent of Maxwell.
Star. Meadows can hit for big power, average and impact the game on defense. He has some Jason Heyward to his game, but he's not a carbon copy.
Projected Draft Round
Will He Sign?
Definitely, but he'll command plenty of money.
2012 Under Armour All-American AUSTIN MEADOWS powered by Baseball Factory (via baseballfactoryTV)
Austin Meadows Prospect Video, Grayson High School (via Steve Fiorindo)