Just don't tell lefthander Dan Meadows.
The 24-year-old from Temple (Texas) JC has been the proverbial overachiever since signing three and a half years ago. Meadows has come so far, in fact, that he could make an appearance in Milwaukee in 2012. The Brewers think enough of his prospect status that they sent him to the Arizona Fall League to close out 2011.
"I guess you'd have to call him a dark horse," minor league pitching coordinator Lee Tunnell said.
Meadows made the low Class A Midwest League all-star team while with Wisconsin in 2009, going 13-6, 4.01 in 33 games, 11 of them starts. Working as a reliever exclusively for high Class A Brevard County in 2010 he notched 92 strikeouts in 91 innings.
Meadows began the 2011 season with Double-A Huntsville and prospered, posting a 1.51 ERA in 21 relief appearances while holding opponents to a .192 average and striking out 39 in 42 innings.
That performance earned Meadows a mid-June promotion to Triple-A Nashville, where he wasn't as consistent. He allowed 16 runs in 20 relief outings but struck out 35 batters in 36 innings and allowed an acceptable average of 1.29 baserunners per inning.
Meadows' fastball maxes out in the high 80s, but he manages to keep hitters at bay with an outstanding changeup—and the guts to throw it in any count. He understands the value in pitching to all four quadrants of the zone and isn't adverse to pitching inside and jamming hitters with his fastball.
"He knows how to pitch," Tunnell said. "And he's pretty fearless out there."
At this stage, Meadows profiles as a possible situational lefty reliever at the highest level. His lack of a quality breaking ball, though, might limit him to more of a long relief/spot starter role. Lefthanded batters (.275 average, .404 slugging) hit him harder than righties (.182, .276) in 2011.
• The Brewers outrighted shortstop Josh Wilson and righthander Mark DiFelice to Triple-A Nashville and both players elected free agency.
• Outfielder Kentrail Davis collected hits in 14 of his first 17 games in the Arizona Fall League. He went 18-for-57 (.316) with five extra-base hits for Peoria in the early going.