Avery's bat heats up in the AFL plus other winter ball news

Xavier Avery, the Orioles' 21-year-old outfield prospect, got off to a terrible start for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, but now he is starting to hit and make up for lost time.

After going just 2-for-26 (.077) in his first eight AFL games, Avery is batting .419 (13-for-31) in his last eight games. In that span he has three triples, seven RBIs, 10 runs scored and four multi-hit games.

In 16 games overall, Avery is batting .263 with one double, four triples, no homers and nine RBIs. He has scored 12 runs and is 7-for-7 stealing bases.

While Avery is batting just .136 in the AFL against left-handed pitching, he is batting .343 with an OPS of 1.008 against the right-handers.

Meanwhile, when the Australian Baseball League opens play next Thursday, several Orioles farmhands are expected to play for the Perth Heat, including first baseman Aaron Baker, the player that was traded from Pittsburgh to Baltimore this summer in the Derrek Lee trade.

The ABL, a six-team league, is one of several winter ball leagues where pro players from the majors and minor leagues go to get in some extra at-bats or innings on the mound.

Other players expected to play for Perth from the O's organization include outfielder Brendan Webb, infielder Mychal Givens, pitcher David Walters and first baseman/outfielder Daryl Crosier, a player the Orioles signed this summer after the draft.

Not all the players will be with the Perth team for the entire schedule. Walters, who went 1-6 with 30 saves in 37 chances and an ERA of 3.93 this year for Single-A Delmarva, will probably not pitch until the second half of the Austrailian winter season.

Four Orioles minor leaguers are expected to play winter ball in Panama, including infielders Greg Miclat and Buck Britton, catcher Steve Lerud and pitcher Tim Bascom, who won the Jim Palmer Award as the Orioles' minor league Pitcher of the Year.

Matt Angle, who hit .177 in 31 Oriole games this year, may play some winter ball in Mexico.

Pitchers Rick Moreland and Rick Zagone may get some extra innings in playing in Colombia. Miguel Abreu is expected to play in Puerto Rico.

Many of the Orioles players from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic have been taking part in an instructional league that began Oct. 1 at the O's Dominican Academy. Felipe Alou Jr., the O's Caribbean Academy director is overseeing those workouts and around 60 players will take part through the end of November.

Meanwhile, several players from the organization are currently taking part in winter ball in Venezuela and the Dominican. Here are the players and their current stats.

In the Dominican:
* Pedro Florimon is 2-for-8 with two walks.
* Jose Diaz has pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings, allowing just one hit.
* Armando Gabino has allowed three runs and five hits in two innings.
* Pedro Viola has pitched five scoreless innings allowing three hits.

In Venezuela:
* Cesar Izturis is 1-for-16 with eight walks and six strikeouts.
* Carlos Rojas is 3-for-12
* Raul Rivero has pitched seven innings, allowing three hits and two runs, one earned.

Other players could join these leagues later, with pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez and catcher Gabriel Lino expected to play in Venezuela, and infielder Garabez Rosa in the Dominican.

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