Accompanied by family and friends who lined one side of the conference room at PNC Park, Austin Meadows was introduced to the Pittsburgh media this afternoon. Here are selected excerpts from his first press conference as a member of the Pirates' organization:
Neal Huntington began by introducing Austin Meadows:
This is the second time we've been able to do this this year. It's a good day.
We're here to celebrate a family accomplishment ... we're celebrating an individual accomplishment in Austin Meadows accomplishing probably a lifelong dream of being selected, getting the opportunity to play professional baseball. And just another step in what I'm sure is his goal of becoming a championship level Major League player.
Organizationally it is the opportunity to celebrate another good day in the organization as we build, continue to grow, continue to develop and most importantly continue to win at the Major League level.
We are thrilled to add Austin Meadows and the Meadows' family to the Pirates family.
With cameras rolling and all the pressure of participating in his first press conference as a professional ballplayer, Meadows slowly, deliberately, buttoned, then rebuttoned, the white Pirates' jersey with his name on the back as he put it on for the first time. He then placed a black Pirates cap on his head, putting a small, barely noticeable crease in the bill. As he pulled the hat down firmly on his head, stopping just short of covering the top of his ears, Meadows smiled, shook hands with the Pirates' General Manager and posed for a good 30 seconds worth of pictures.
As he took a seat, the eighteen year old first round draft pick started with the prepared, but memorized, statement:
First off I just want to thank God, my family, my friends and my coaches for putting me in the position I am in today and for being there for me throughout my career. I also want to thank the Pittsburgh Pirates for allowing me to join the organization.
Meadows cited being a "hard worker, having a tough attitude ... playing hard every day" as his greatest strengths.
In one of the more entertaining exchanges of the press conference, Meadows was asked if he had had the opportunity to tour PNC Park yet: "I have not yet. I want to put one in the river. That'd be pretty neat. I've heard it's one of the nicest parks in baseball." Asked what he thought about the river comment, Huntington responded, "He can hit as many in the river as he wants as long as he gets a lot of other hits, too." (laughter)
Asked if he thought he had the best minor league system in baseball, Neal Huntington said "We're always going to think we have the best farm system in baseball ... it's not for us to judge ... we're going to walk around like we have the best farm system in baseball. It's going to be huge piece of the puzzle as we move forward."
Finally, summing up how he felt to finally wear a big league jersey and be a professional baseball player, Meadows said it was, "Overwhelming. I can't explain it. I started playing when I was three years old and always wanted to be a big leaguer. So this is a start. I'm looking forward to it. I'm just going to work hard every day."
The Pirates have now signed 19 players from the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.