Parker Meadows might assert himself into Tigers’ roster mix but not just yet

Detroit News

Northport, Fla. – Austin Meadows waited patiently in the visitor’s clubhouse while two reporters detained his younger brother Parker.

“How come you guys never want to talk to me,” he said, laughing.

The brothers Meadows, Georgia-born and raised, combined for five hits and seven RBIs, helping the Tigers to a 16-7 spring romp over the Atlanta Braves at CoolToday Park on Saturday.

Parker, though, earned top billing. He walked, singled, blasted two home runs and knocked in four.

“It felt really good,” Parker said. “Especially to do it against the Braves. I grew up watching the Braves, they were my favorite team. I was telling Austin, we had a combined seven ribbies. Shout out to him. It was cool to see him get a couple of knocks. It was a cool experience.”

It started out as a cute story, the Meadows brothers on the same team, in the same big-league camp for the first time in their lives. But might Parker, who hasn’t played above Double-A, be threatening to assert himself into the roster picture?

Pump the brakes on that for now.

“Right now the best thing we can do for him is to continue to expose him to more and more challenges,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “Let him know that he can stand on his own two feet against names (pitchers) he recognizes.”

After drawing a walk from Braves starter Charlie Morton, Meadows crushed a 93-mph fastball off right-hander Raisel Iglesias, sending it over the wall in right field and off the administration building beyond the concourse.

There is no Statcast data from CoolToday Park, so distance and exit velocity is unknown — but it wasn’t a cheapie.

“Just hunting fastballs in the zone,” he said. “Luckily I got some good pitches to hit and I took advantage of them. It felt good to get the barrel out.”

His last two hits came against left-handed pitchers — an RBI single against veteran A.J. Minter and a homer to right-center against minor-league camper Jake McSteen. It was significant considering he hit .196 off lefties in Double-A last season.

“Thanks to the wind for the second (homer),” he said, laughing. “But it felt good. I struggled against lefties a bit last year and it’s something I worked on this offseason. It felt really good to get some knocks off lefties.”

The Tigers’ outfield battle right now is between two other left-handed hitters — Akil Baddoo and Kerry Carpenter. With Austin Meadows and Riley Greene virtual locks in right field and center field, it’s unlikely the club will carry four left-handed hitting outfield-only players on the roster.

Parker Meadows, although he’s hitting .346 with a team-high four home runs this spring, might not be part of that discussion right now, but he’s creating his own narrative.

“He’s getting a ton of experience,” Hinch said. “And he’s having a great time performing. He’s made great strides over the last 12 months, from repeating (minor league) levels and feeling like he was going to be in (High-A) West Michigan forever and then to the adjustments in Double-A and now he’s playing in big-league camp.

“It’s fun to see now, when he’s in the strike zone he can do a lot of damage.”

As for pushing the envelope on making the big-league club out of camp? Parker would tell you that’s above his pay grade.

“Honestly, I’m not thinking about that at all right now,” he said. “I’m just going out and playing my game and supporting all my teammates. I’m just out there having fun and whatever happens, happens.”

With that, he and Austin walked out of the stadium together, headed back to Lakeland.

Twitter@cmccosky

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