Meadows brothers can do big things in Detroit, as soon as this season


If you're looking for reasons to tune into the Tigers, you may have found one last Saturday against the Braves. Riley Greene led off the fifth with a single, Spencer Torkelson followed with a walk and Austin Meadows drove home Greene with a single to center. And then Parker Meadows drove home Torkelson with a single to left.

The Meadows brothers, hitting three and four in the lineup and playing side by side in the outfield, would combine to go 5-7 with seven RBI -- fueled by Parker's two home runs -- in the Tigers' 16-7 romp.

"Parker has been the story of camp because of the progress he’s made," A.J. Hinch said Tuesday on 97.1 The Ticket. "Super good kid. He’s energetic, he’s been quiet but he’s spoke with his bat and with his play in center field. That groundswell starts about what’s possible when he gets to the big leagues."

A 23-year-old who hasn't played past Double-A, Parker won't make the Tigers' Opening Day roster. Hinch has been clear about that, and reiterated as much Tuesday: "He’s on a different development path. We want him to be really good when he gets here." That means playing every day to start the season, likely in Toledo. But we could see Parker in Detroit this summer, reunited with Austin.

Austin is reunited with the Tigers after missing most of his first season with the club due to various injuries and, later, a mental health battle that required a break from baseball. He's still just 27 years old, with a potentially long career ahead of him in Detroit. He's still the stick who put up 27 homers and 106 RBI the season before last. He's still a bat Hinch wants in the heart of his lineup.

"Getting Austin back is like getting a brand new player that we acquired in the offseason, because we just haven’t had much time with him," said Hinch. "Austin’s in a really good place. And how quickly we forget he’s a middle-of-the-order bat on a playoff team two years ago. Getting him back and getting him in a good place and having him enjoy coming to the field and producing has been cool. Watching him play alongside his little brother, albeit taller little brother, has been fun."

Parker's stats this spring speak for themselves: 9-30 (.300) with a 1.131 OPS and four homers. (He's also struck out in a third of his plate appearances, hence Hinch's patience.) So did his stats last season, especially with Double-A Erie where he had 16 homers and an .820 OPS -- and 17 stolen bases. He's always been a graceful athlete. The tools inside his 6'5 frame have tantalized the Tigers since they drafted him in the second round five years ago. He has the talent to lift a team's ceiling.

As he closes the gap on Austin, Parker is opening the door to Detroit.

"Rolling those two guys out next to each other, I’ve hit them back-to-back a couple times honestly just for fun and to get them to interact a little bit on a major league field," said Hinch. "We love the progress Parker has made, we love the return of Austin and it’s not hard to visualize them playing together at some point this season."

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