Meadows an 'Elite' PG A-A

Photo: Perfect Game

Jeff Dahn
Published: Wednesday, July 12, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. – When Parker Meadows arrives in San Diego about a month from now and starts to enjoy what will be the four life-changing days that comprise the annual Perfect Game All-American Classic extended weekend, he won’t have to spend a lot of time on player introductions.

A 17-year-old class of 2018 highly ranked and highly regarded national prospect, Meadows calls Grayson, Ga., home, and when it was announced on Tuesday he had been selected to be part of the 2017 PG All-American Classic, it was as a member of the East Team.  Anyone looking at a U.S. map would know there was no real surprise in that.

But what makes it especially cool for Meadows is that four of his East teammates are also teammates of his on the Team Elite 17u Prime super-squad that is competing here at this week’s 17u PG BCS National Championship.

Meadows, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound, left-handed swinging but right-handed throwing outfielder and pitcher, is ranked No. 45 overall in his class. He’ll be joined in San Diego – and in the East Team dugout at Petco Park – by No. 1 right-hander Kumar Rocker, No. 3 catcher Will Banfield, No. 4 right-hander Ethan Hankins and No. 41 first baseman/outfielder John Malcom, all here this week with Team Elite. It is, without question, quite a collection of talent.

“It is definitely a blessing to be a part of this team,” Meadows said Wednesday morning from a backfield at the CenturyLink Sports Complex, the spring training home of the Minnesota Twins. “You can get along with every one of these guys – you don’t see too many fights on this team – and you’re always going to look at the guys to your left and your right and know they’re always going to be there to pick you up.”

Truth be told, it would be very difficult to imagine the talented teammates on this squad – the official roster lists 12 2018 prospects ranked in the top-150 nationally; 20 of them have committed to NCAA Division-I schools – ever fighting amongst themselves. And, in fact, it’s just the opposite.

“We’re all friends, but I’m not going to lie, sometimes we do goof-off,” Meadows said with a smile while talking about the time the teammates spend away from the field. “When it’s time to play, we’re all serious and we’re all focusing on the game.”

And they learn from one another along the way. Meadows always tries to pay attention to how his talented outfield compatriots go about their business if only to see where they take their first step when a ball is heading their way. “I’ll just watch them and find something that they’re doing so I can get to work on it,” he said.

Late-in-the-day weather delays played havoc with the 17u PG BCS National Championship schedule on Monday and Tuesday with more on the way Wednesday. Consequently, as of mid-day Wednesday, the Elite 17u Prime had completed only three pool-play games; they stood at 2-1-0.

But every player on this roster knows the drill when it comes to Southwest Florida’s summer weather, and a seasoned vet like Meadows – this is his 21st Perfect Game event – understands that the key is staying mentally focused and being prepared to play when one of your coaches tells you, “Hey, it’s time to play.”

The team also dealt with some weather issues at the 17u PG WWBA National Championship held in the north Atlanta suburbs last week, so its players are probably getting used to it.

This same Team Elite 17u Prime team finished 7-1-0 at that PG national championship tournament after a 1-0 loss in the quarterfinals to the eventual champion Canes 17u; the game was shortened to five innings because of all the weather delays.

Meadows was named to the all-tournament team at the event – the eighth time he has been recognized as a PG all-tournament performer – after hitting .400 (4-for-10) with a .571 on-base percentage, a home run and two RBI. He had only 14 plate appearances in six games, several of the five-inning variety; after three games here this week, he was hitting .500 (4-for-8) with a .556 OBP, a double and three runs scored.

The 2016 16u Perfect Game World Series, the 2015 PG WWBA World Championship and the 2015 PG WWBA Underclass World Championship are the most prominent among the other seven events at which Meadows has been included on the all-tournament team. Last month’s PG National Showcase was his first PG showcase he had attended.

“You’ve just always got to keep a positive mindset; you can just never get down on yourself,” he said when asked about his strong performances at PG tournaments. “If you go into a slump or anything like that, you’ve just got to stay positive no matter what.”

The Team Elite 17u Prime is being coached by Team Elite Baseball owner/general manager Brad Bouras, who has made it a priority over the last decade-plus to assemble prospect-laden rosters for every one of the program’s teams, regardless of age-group; he has a keen eye for talent.

Bouras certainly likes what he sees in Meadows, and was quick to note the 17-year-old obviously possesses all the necessary tools a burgeoning prospect needs to build a solid resume and then a solid career at either the collegiate or professional level. According to Bouras, Meadows has the body-type that projects very well in the years to come as he continues to get stronger and add size.

“What I like best about him is his continuous work ethic,” he said. “He always wants to get better, he always wants to (get in extra hitting); he always wants to work on different (parts) of his game. Progressively, he keeps getting better and better every single time he steps on the field.”

Parker Meadows in the younger brother of Austin Meadows, an alumnus of both the 2012 Perfect Game
All-American Classic and the 2012 PG National Showcase. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Austin with the No. 9 overall pick in the first-round of the 2013 MLB June Amateur Draft, and he is now in his fifth big-league season playing at Triple-A Indianapolis in the International League. Baseball American ranked Austin Meadows as the No. 1 prospect in the Pirates organization before the 2017 season.

“He’s my role model; he means everything to me,” Meadows said of his older brother. “He’s the type of guy, you know, where if I have a bad AB or if somebody’s video-taping my at-bat, I can send it to him and ask him what I’m doing wrong here or what I’m doing right here. He’s just somebody I can always look up to.”

Meadows said that his Austin called him on Tuesday and congratulated him being invited to the PG All-American Classic, keeping the Meadows’ legacy intact. It’s really no surprise that a prospect with the baseball skills Bouras has seen – and one with strong moral character and a humble demeanor – was honored with an invitation to the PG All-American Classic; no one appreciates the invite more than he does.

“It really means a lot to me,” Meadows said. “To be able to compete with the best players in the country, it definitely means a lot, and I feel very blessed and honored to be selected.

He then directed his comments towards the annual visit the PG All-Americans make to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego; the prospects invited to the Classic are directly involved in fund-raising efforts for Rady’s pediatric cancer ward: “I know being there and seeing those kids is definitely going to put a smile on my face and make me appreciate how fortunate we are,” he said.

Meadows played both football and basketball right through his freshman year in high school before realizing as a sophomore he should concentrate on baseball and try to hop on the same fast train his brother is riding.

He’s been happy with the way his game has progressed and developed while also knowing – the good ones always know – that is still a lot of work to do. He’s getting after it non-stop, and not only during summer ball but also as a member of his Grayson HS team.

The Rams finished 25-8 this spring after a loss to eventual GSAA Class 7A state runner-up Woodstock in the second-round of the playoffs. Meadows enjoyed a fine junior campaign, hitting .410 (34-for-83) with 11 extra-base hits (4 HRs), 19 RBI, 27 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. He was 5-2 with a 1.87 ERA from the mound, and struck-out 33 batters in 30 innings of work.

“Playing at Grayson is a very positive experience,” he said. “We have good coaching and really good team chemistry; all of my best friends are on that team so it’s a really a blessing to play with all those guys.”

Meadows is also playing with may more of his best friends on this Team Elite 17u Prime squad, and credits Bouras for helping each one of these top prospects reach their potential.

The Team Elite founder makes sure the Elite 17u Prime has been a formidable presence at PG upper-class tournaments all summer. That will continue when they play at the inaugural 17u PG Summer Showdown Protected by G-Form July 21-24 at PG Park South-LakePoint in Emerson, Ga. But, still, there are challenges.

“Over the last 12 years, I’ve learned very well that as the industry has evolved year after year with the better players you get, you get less time with them,” Bouras said. “That makes it a little tough because you’ve got different guys going to different showcases and different individual events, but when you do finally get them all together, it is a joy because you’ve got all the talent right there. …

“They play well together, they’ve got great chemistry and there’s a lot of talent,” he continued. “When they apply themselves properly they can beat just about anybody in the country.”

And now five of the team members, including Meadows, will be traveling to San Diego and the beautiful Southern California Pacific Coast in mid-August to be recognized for all their hard work as members of the East Team at the 2017 PG All-American Classic. Meadows can’t wait to get out there.

“I just want to take it all in and have fun; that’s what it’s all about,” he said, perhaps thinking about the lunch excursion at PG All-American Classic Honorary Chairman Trevor Hoffman’s Pacific Ocean beach house. Or maybe not. “If you’re not having fun, I don’t even think you should be playing. Baseball is all about having fun.”

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