Pirates put Austin Meadows on 40-man roster; Gift Ngoepe traded
Although he has not played a full season since 2015, Austin Meadows has too much upside for the Pirates to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.
On Monday, Meadows and right-handed pitchers Luis Escobar and Dario Agrazal were placed on the 40-man roster. The move protects them from the draft, which will be held Dec. 14 at the winter meetings.
Also, infielder Gift Ngoepe was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash or a player to be named.
The ninth overall pick in 2013, Meadows has hit .292 with an .818 OPS over five seasons in the minors. The 22-year-old outfielder is the Pirates’ No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America’s most recent rankings.
Hamstring and oblique injuries limited Meadows to 72 games this past season at Triple-A Indianapolis. In 2016, similar injuries held him to 87 games, including 37 with Indy.
Escobar, 21, led the Low-A South Atlantic League and the Pirates’ farm system with 168 strikeouts. He also was selected for the All-Star Futures Game.
Agrazal, 22, went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) for High-A Bradenton. He made one appearance for Double-A Altoona before sustaining a season-ending injury.
Ngoepe, 27, made his big league debut this year and hit .222 in 28 games.
There are 38 players on the 40-man roster. That does not include third baseman Jung Ho Kang, who remains on the restricted list.
Notable players who were not added to the roster include pitcher Tyler Eppler, Yeudy Garcia and shortstop Adrian Valerio. Of those, Eppler is the closest to the majors, but he appears to have only an outside chance of getting a bullpen job with the Pirates in 2018.