As general manager Neal Huntington took his seat Friday afternoon, he reflected upon the significance of the day's event.
"We get to do this for a second time this year," he said. "It's a good day."
Huntington and the Pirates introduced center fielder Austin Meadows, the No. 9 overall pick in this year's amateur draft, at PNC Park after Meadows passed a physical and signed his contract. Last week, the Pirates signed high school catcher Reese McGuire, their other first-round pick.
"I think we're in a good spot as an organization," Huntington said. "We're doing well at the major league level, we're doing well in the draft, we're doing well in the player development."
Meadows, 18, joined Huntington on the podium with a No. 13 Pirates jersey buttoned over a black Pirates polo. His parents, Kenny and Staci, and younger brother Parker joined him.
Meadows' signing came with the Pirates tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in baseball. They entered Friday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers 18 games above .500.
"It's fun, especially to come at this time when they're tied for first in the major leagues," Meadows said. "I'm looking forward to seeing what else there is to come. I'm going to work hard and try to get there as fast as I can."
Meadows will start his journey to the majors with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates, where McGuire was also assigned. Meadows said he spoke to McGuire about the schedule of GCL play.
Meadows and McGuire are both under contact with two weeks remaining before the July 12 signing deadline, allowing them time to get a half-season or so of professional play under their belts in their draft year. In the past, the mid-August signing deadline made it tough for draftees to play in their draft year, except in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League.
"I cannot imagine being 18 or 21 and being dropped into a 144-game season with one or two days off a month," Huntington said. "It's unfair to keep the players who have had to go through that. It's a tremendous challenge.
"Now, he gets the chance to see what it feels like to play six days a week, to get up every morning, to go play in the summer heat in Florida and prepare for a 144-game season."
Meadows received a signing bonus of $3,029,600, which is equal to the assigned value of his draft slot. He opted to turn pro rather than play college baseball for Clemson.
"It's been a long process filling out all this paperwork for the scouts, having all the scouts in my house, all the teams in my house," Meadows said. "I'm glad the time has finally come."
The left-handed Meadows hit .535 with four home runs for Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., this season.
"He's always been a real humble kid," said Meadows' father. "He dealt with the pressure better than I expected, to be honest with you, because he had a lot of expectations coming into his senior year. He had all eyes on him because he was kind of picked out early as a top prospect.
"He knew that he had to continue to perform, even with all the scouts that come to practices and games."
The Pirates have now signed nine of their 11 selections in the first 10 rounds, which are the rounds governed by the signing bonus caps.
They have saved some money to use on sixth-rounder Adam Frazier and seventh-rounder Buddy Borden, who remain unsigned, or on players drafted in the final 30 rounds. Any bonus that exceeds $100,000 in rounds 11-40 counts against the team's draft pool.
"We've approached the draft with a strategy and we've allocated our resources accordingly," Huntington said.
Meadows likes to fish, and soon he'll head to Bradenton, Fla., with a bay, a river and an ocean at his disposal. He has indicated he doesn't want to stay there long, though, and spoke often of reaching the majors as soon as possible.
Asked about PNC Park, he said he had not yet taken a tour, but: "I want to put it in the river. That'd be pretty neat."
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published June 29, 2013 4:00 AM