Every team needs that one player to ignite the fire. They need that one person whom can spark a rally. Adam Jones has undoubtedly been that player for the Baltimore Orioles.
In AAA Norfolk, there has been this guy named Xavier Avery doing the same thing. Most will remember him for the cup-of-coffee he received back in May. While he was not a direct impact like Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, he showed some nice skills before getting sent back down to Norfolk.
In fact, he has been one of the biggest surprises in the 2012 season. Back on February 2nd I wrote a piece on him at The EntreprenOriole Blog:
Overall, Xavier Avery has plenty of upside, but his on-base skills will determine whether he becomes anything more than a 4th OF. He does not have the power(13HR in four seasons), like Adam Jones, to get away with such a high K% and low BB%.
I was talking about his career 22.7 K% and 7.9 BB%. Before this season, Avery was showing a more violent approach at the plate with a little too much movement for my liking. In return, he was having trouble with off-speed pitches and any good breaking pitch. I wrote that he has solid upside, but his discipline will determine whether he was anything more than a 4th OF type.
I questioned, he answered.
Avery has been absolutely impressive in my time watching the Tides play. His approach at the plate is the first noticeable change. He has quickly learned to ease back with breaking pitches, and has proven much better at reading them.
He’s always been a quick learner, as he achieved success on the first time at each level throughout the Orioles system. Remember, he was a young player coming into the organization and could just be coming out of college this year. The numbers also seem to agree.
So far this season he has a 20.2 K% and 13.1 BB%. The K% is not much lower than his career, but the BB% is noticeably higher. Avery is simply laying off more “bad” pitches. Not many players at his age master this trait so quickly. While his average teeters around .270, his on-base percentage is charming.
He carries an OBP of .372 and a wOBA of .370 heading into Thursday. For a guy that was pegged as not having the best approach, this is really impressive.
With Avery’s speed, above-average defense, and improved approach at the plate, It’s not surprising he’s been called back up. In my eyes he is certainly ready for every-day action with the Orioles. Understand that the big show is an entirely different level of “hard”, but Avery really has nothing left to prove in the minors. He’s also probably a better option at this point for the MLB club.