Where do you go after Machado and Britton? After those two, there really aren’t too many well-known names in the Orioles’ farm system. Take, for example, the prospect that Baseball America ranked third best for the O’s, Xavier Avery. How many of you know his name? Let me see a show of hands. Thought so.
Avery was signed in 2008, with the Orioles snatching him away from a scholarship to the University of Georgia to play football. Baseball wasn’t Avery’s primary sport. However, he’s keen on learning and improving, and he’s starting to get the idea (he’s picked up basestealing quite well, as well as center field defense). However, he still needs some time to polish his skills, and he’ll have plenty of that since he just turned 21 on January 1st. (Yes, he’s younger than me. I know. I am now old.)
In terms of batting, Avery has hit .269/.325/.361 since being drafted in 2008, with his lowest average in those three seasons coming from his 2010 promotion to Double-A Bowie, where he only batted .234. However, he only bats .193 against left-handed pitching, and he still has trouble with breaking balls, which is something he’ll have to master if he wants to make it in the majors. He’ll be starting in Bowie in 2011 again, and hopefully he’ll find some consistency there, because he still hasn’t fully achieved that and it’s the key to advancing further in the system, especially given that he’s blocked in Norfolk by some handy outfielders (some of whom will be profiled later in this series).
Overall, Avery is a fairly solid prospect, but he’s going to still need plenty of work. At least he’s got a lot of time to grow and develop!