Xavier Avery is headed to Baltimore to join the Orioles

After he had hit .259 with 156 strikeouts last year with Double-A Bowie, there was some talk that outfield prospect Xavier Avery would have to go back to Double-A for the 2012 season.

But the Orioles instead sent him to Triple-A Norfolk, where he has been hitting well, and tonight, after just 33 games with the Tides, Avery is getting on a plane in Indianapolis and will fly to Baltimore. He is expected to be activated by the Orioles in time for Sunday's game.

The reports of Avery joining the Orioles first surfaced via Twitter and he confirmed tonight that he is about to join the Orioles.

The 22-year-old Avery, the youngest player on the Tides' roster, is batting .273 with six doubles, two triples, five homers and 16 RBIs with an OPS of .842.

"This is real exciting," Avery said by phone tonight before boarding a flight for Baltimore. "I just want to get there and help that team keep winning."

Avery said Norfolk manager Ron Johnson called him into his office this afternoon to tell him to pack his bags and get to the airport to join the Orioles.

With two hits in Saturday's game, Avery has hit safely in five straight games, batting .455 (10-for-22) with two home runs, six RBIs and six runs scored over that stretch.

He's now reached base safely in 15 straight road contests, one shy of the longest streak in the International League this year. Avery leads Norfolk in hits (35), home runs (five), average (.273), on-base percentage (.373), runs (23), walks (20), and stolen bases (eight).

"I've been swinging real well," Avery said of his recent hot streak. "I am a smarter hitter now than when I was younger. I've learned to lay off bad pitches and put myself in better situations up there.

"It's taken a while for me, since '08. But I put in the work day by day and have learned better patience at the plate. Ron Johnson said, 'Just keep doing what you've been doing. Keep playing hard and stay focused.' "

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