D-backs' Eaton Doesn't Let Size Keep Him Down

PHOENIX—At 5-foot-8, Adam Eaton is often the shortest player on the field. Just as often, Eaton is the most efficient leadoff hitter, the best defensive outfielder and the most likely to take the extra base.

Eaton has risen steadily since joining the Diamondbacks as a 19th-round pick in 2010 out of Miami (Ohio), and he was attacking the Arizona Fall League the way he has his other three stops in 17 months with the Diamondbacks. Eaton was hitting .345/.417/.488 for Salt River and was leading the AFL in runs (24), tied for third in hits (29) and tied for fourth in stolen bases (eight).

Eaton receives his inspiration in the words of his late uncle Dave, who died from cancer a few years ago. "Like he always said, dynamite comes in small packages," Eaton said.

"I love that guy. He comes to play every day," one longtime major league talent evaluator said while watching Eaton take batting practice in the AFL.

Eaton, 22, hit a combined .318/.434/.463 at high Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile this season, with 10 homers, 67 RBIs and 34 stolen bases. He had a patient, disciplined approach at the plate, with almost as many walks (72) as strikeouts (76).

"You can't get bigger than yourself. Being a smaller guy, your job is to get on base," Eaton said. "My approach is to scrap a hit, scrap a walk, scrap a hit by pitch. Anything I can do, it doesn't matter. Just get on and try to put pressure on a defense."

That dirtbag mentality makes Eaton the kind of player Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson wants around. Arizona scout Frankie Thon identified Eaton early, and Eaton was an immediate success while hitting .385/.500/.575 in 226 at-bats with Rookie-level Missoula in 2010. He followed that with a strong encore this year.

"He's one of the major draft successes we've had in recent years," former D-backs executive Jerry Dipoto said before he took the Angels' general manager job. "He blew up the Cal League in the first half. He's an extremely aggressive player. He's definitely wired to win."

Snake Bites

• Arizona does not expect to fill Dipoto's role of vice president of scouting and player development. Instead, farm director Mike Bell and scouting director Ray Montgomery will report directly to GM Kevin Towers.

• Righthanded reliever Kevin Munson struck out 14 in 12 innings to start the AFL season, posting a 1.54 ERA. Munson spent most of the regular season with high Class A Visalia, going 4-3, 4.02.