To say the least, the improvement of 22-year-old outfielder Xavier Avery has been impressive. He has played nine big league games now and been hitless in just three. One of those was last night, but he still scored a run and drove in a run with an impressive bases-loaded walk against Boston.
Avery's numbers were up pretty much across the board this year at Triple-A Norfolk over what he hit last season with Double-A Bowie. He has continued to put up good numbers since joining the Orioles.
2011-Bowie: .259-4-26 & .324 OBP, .343 slugging, .666 OPS in 138 games.
2012-Norfolk: .273-5-16 & .373 OBP, .469 slugging, .842 OPS in 33 games.
2012-Orioles: .278-0-3 & .366 OBP, .417 slugging, .783 OPS in 9 games.
O's manager Buck Showalter today sounded like a man that could see Avery making improvements during big league spring training this year in February and March.
"I am very cautious about bringing young players in big league camp for the first time," Showalter said. "I want it to be a good experience and be a part of their development. You might stick his locker next to somebody that does it the right way. You may take some road trips with him, ride a bus, so you have some time to talk with him.
"I think I've found with really athletic guys that you have to challenge them. There was a lot of debate (within the organization) whether he should start the year in Bowie and then go up or start the year in Norfolk. We felt good about challenging him athletically.
"I have been impressed with his calmness and his selectiveness (at the plate). That is always the last thing to come, it seems like, with a young player. Xavier is doing well so far."
So just what did the organization see that led the club to decide to start Avery at Triple-A this season?
"One, (Norfolk manager) Ron Johnson or (Bowie manager) Gary Kendall, either one would have handled him really well, but we thought it was important to challenge him athletically," Showalter said. "Also, it could improve our depth if he could play well there. Also, when you have young players going into the Eastern League or International League, there is a chance they won't do well the first month before it warms up. That is another reason to be impressed with Xavier starting out so well."