A year ago on May 15, Xavier Avery had batted .224/.278/.252 (33-for-147) with four doubles and an 8-to-43 walk-to-strikeout ratio for Double-A Bowie. This year he's in Baltimore after leveling out his walk-to-strikeout ratio (20-to-29) and belting 13 extra-base hits in the 33 Triple-A International League games. The lesson: Fortunes can change dramatically for prospects in one year.
The 22-year-old Avery started in left field last night for the Orioles and collected his first two career hits, a double and a triple, both off Yankees starter Ivan Nova. In concert with injuries to outfielders Nolan Reimold and Endy Chavez, Avery forced the Orioles' hand by raking in his final nine games for Triple-A Norfolk, batting 15-for-35 (.429) with three homers, four doubles and four strikeouts. His big league callup follows quickly on the heels of his first Prospect Hot Sheet appearances last Friday, which also happened with Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks about a week earlier.
With the caveat that the season still has a long way to go, Avery does appear to have made fundamental changes to his game. Compare his performance in Double-A last season with his early showing in Triple-A this year and note that he batted leadoff almost exclusively in both seasons. Notice the Arizona Fall League line placed between the two regular seasons, because one can almost see the light bulb clicking on for Avery, a talented athlete who nevertheless entered this season with a career batting line of .265/.324/.355 in nearly 1,950 plate appearances.
|Arizona Fall League
From the above we can see that Avery became much more selective, upping his walk rate and decreasing his strikeout rate, during last year's AFL season. Identifying better pitches to hit also has enhanced his power output in the form of a 111-point jump in isolated power. In other words, Avery's performance for Norfolk this season may not be a mirage.
Watch Avery turn on a low, inside fastball from Nova and rip it for a triple.
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