The Orioles recalled outfielder Xavier Avery, who is helping to fill in for the injured Nolan Reimold. Is he relevant for fantasy owners, though? Let’s take a look:
- 22-year old outfielder
- Left-handed hitter
- Drafted in the second round in 2008 (50th overall), before players like Craig Kimbrel, Vance Worley, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Dee Gordon, Anthony Gose & Danny Espinosa
- Prior to the season Baseball America the best athlete in the Orioles’ farm system
- Baseball America ranked him as the team’s #9 prospect prior to the season; mlb.com had him at #6
- Mlb.com described him by saying, “Avery has the tools to be a top-of-the-order catalyst some day. His plus speed should allow him to continue to be a basestealer and be an above-average defensive center fielder. He can swing the bat from the left side of the plate but gets into trouble with his plate discipline and approach, leading to inflated strikeout totals. He worked on that in the Arizona Fall League in 2011 and had some success, a springboard into the 2012 season, during which, the Orioles’ future leadoff hitter got his first call to the big leagues.”
- Big risk to rack up the strikeouts, which will limit his ability to hit for a usable average; 22.8% over minor league career (1,887 AB) and 25.5% over 664 AB at Double-A
- He had been making better contact in 2012, with a 19.0% strikeout rate at Triple-A
- Has stolen 30+ bases each of the past three seasons (including 38 in 2010)
- Was hitting .273 with 5 HR, 16 RBI, 23 R and 8 SB in 128 AB at Triple-A (his first time at the level) prior to his recall
- Has been used in the leadoff spot on occasion since his recall (9 out of 12 AB) and has hit .250 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R and 0 SB; he also has 2 K
In deeper formats taking the gamble on someone like Avery makes sense, the question is if he is the right gamble to take. It’s clear that he has a useable skill set to bring to the table, the question is whether he is fully ready and will be given the opportunity to put it on display. Unfortunately, I’m not sure he is on either level.
The strikeouts are a major concern, and something that is going to severely limit his upside. While he has shown improvement this season, it is not rare to see players strikeout totals increase upon being promoted. He is not a source of power, and if he is striking out often he is not going to get a chance to show off his speed.
As for opportunity, the Orioles do need a catalyst at the top of the order, but when everyone is healthy there is no room for him in the lineup. Barring a trade, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold all deserve to be in the regular lineup, so the AB just won’t likely be there for Avery.
As a short-term source of SB potential I could see rolling the dice, but he’s no guarantee to produce and will likely head back to Triple-A once Reimold returns. In other words, there are other guys that I would prefer to take the chance on over Avery.