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#15 Prospect - Xavier Avery


Tony-OH

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I agree with all of this, though I think his arm is a bit fringy for CF. I think he profiles best as a LF with plus-defense and some pop in his bat.

Well, Joe Jordan and the guys who saw him in the instructional league would disagree with you. I haven't seen his arm yet, so I'm going off of their reports, but Jordan highlighted the fact that Avery profiles to center field, rather than left like Crawford.

Where did you see his arm? Was it just from the scouting videos or did you see him elsewhere?

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The Avery criticisms are a bit much for me too. JJ and virtually all draft day reports said Avery was very raw, but extremely athletic. That he did very well in showcase events, but faced a very low level of HS competition that hindered his development.

IMO, nothing has happened in Avery's efforts in his young career that is outside the range of reasonable expectations. Everything we've been told about this kid is happening and yet people completely ignore this, ignore everything written about him by the pundits on draft day and after and recall a failed top pick from a decade earlier and hint this pick is doomed to fail.

Avery may ultimately fail, as the odds are against him like most picks, but Avery brings a toolset to this organization not seen in many, many years. Tremendously athletic, 80 speed who already plays quality defense, good strength for his size and, as Tony notes, an aptitude for learning.

Even though I made the Darnell McDonald comp, I'm by no means going to discount the guy's chances. He certainly didn't embarrass himself last summer, and as Tony noted, he got better as the season went along.

It's just that we haven't had a lot of success developing these "toolsy" guys over the last 15 years. It's not just McDonald, it's Keith Reed, Lorenzo Scott, Kieron Pope and several others who were said to be tremendous athletes but raw. So at this point I need to see a success story before I'll believe it.

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Well, Joe Jordan and the guys who saw him in the instructional league would disagree with you. I haven't seen his arm yet, so I'm going off of their reports, but Jordan highlighted the fact that Avery profiles to center field, rather than left like Crawford.

Where did you see his arm? Was it just from the scouting videos or did you see him elsewhere?

Video from showcases last summer. It wouldn't surprise me if he's increased arm strength a bit due to added strength or improved mechanics, but I just haven't seen him recently enough to confirm any of that. Did Jordan specifically say he has that arm strength now, or that he profiles to stay in CF down the road (meaning it's serviceable now but should be fine as he improves and progresses)? Just curious.

Either way, it really doesn't matter. Look at how long Pierre and Damon played in CF, simply because they could cover ground. I like a little more arm strength (which is why I'd prefer Avery in LF) but I understand that not every baseball person thinks it's the be-all-end-all outside of RF. Just a personal preference and a personal projection for the tool set I've seen.

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Even though I made the Darnell McDonald comp, I'm by no means going to discount the guy's chances. He certainly didn't embarrass himself last summer, and as Tony noted, he got better as the season went along.

It's just that we haven't had a lot of success developing these "toolsy" guys over the last 15 years. It's not just McDonald, it's Keith Reed, Lorenzo Scott, Kieron Pope and several others who were said to be tremendous athletes but raw. So at this point I need to see a success story before I'll believe it.

That's certainly understandable, but only McDonald was thought of more highly before the draft than Avery who had been projected as high as a supplemental 1st rounder by some. McDonald of course was hurt by shoulder injuries and I truly think that was as big as anything in his lack of development. Pope was a project from the start and as fourth rounder, it wasn't the worse selection especially in a draft where you already had a college pitcher (Olson) and hitter (Reimold) ahead of him. Reed was a bit of a stretch in the first round and was signed more because of his signablility than his over ceiling, but he certainly was a tools guy that never got it. Of course Reed also had very questionable work ethic that the Orioles surely didn't count on. Scott was a flyer taken in a late round. I don't think he belongs in the discussion.

Avery has more speed than any of these guys and besides Reed, he's built the best as well. Time will tell with Avery, but I still like his upside. He very easily could be in the top five or off the list in two years.

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Is the instructional league still going on? Any reports on the attempt to convert Adam Loewen to a hitter?

I'll have an instructional league report out today sometime... The sooner I stop responding to you bashing my picks the faster I'll be able to get it out. ;)

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I'm not surprised by this ranking, but I don't agree with it. Avery's upside is supposedly Carl Crawford, and the likelihood that he'll reach his upside is low.

The thing is...Carl Crawford is a very good baseball player, but he's not a GREAT baseball player. I wouldn't trade Nick Markakis straight up for Carl Crawford--would you? Crawford has great speed and defense, but he doesn't hit a lot of home runs or get on base a ton.

If we drafted a raw prospect who had a small chance of becoming the next Albert Pujols, I could see getting excited...but Carl Crawford?

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I'm not surprised by this ranking, but I don't agree with it. Avery's upside is supposedly Carl Crawford, and the likelihood that he'll reach his upside is low.

The thing is...Carl Crawford is a very good baseball player, but he's not a GREAT baseball player. I wouldn't trade Nick Markakis straight up for Carl Crawford--would you? Crawford has great speed and defense, but he doesn't hit a lot of home runs or get on base a ton.

If we drafted a raw prospect who had a small chance of becoming the next Albert Pujols, I could see getting excited...but Carl Crawford?

Yeah, but it's not as if Avery is being ranked in the top 5 or something. This is # 15 we are talking about. When Markakis was in the minors he ranked # 4 in our system the year he was drafted, so that is about where I'd expect someone with Markakis' upside to be ranked if they he was in our system now.

By the way, the year Nick was drafted, Woody Cliffords was our no. 15 prospect.

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THT's review of Avery:

50. Xavier Avery | CF | Baltimore Orioles

Avery wasn't drafted for his baseball skills or because he would move quickly through the minors. He was drafted because he is an excellent athlete with plenty of tools that his organization will try to mold into results.

The biggest problem I have with Avery—and picks like him—is that it isn't just his tools that will need to be molded into results. He has to learn how to recognize pitch types, develop adequate plate discipline, and notice pitcher tendencies, among other things. He also has to overhaul his swing to produce desired results.

Avery's swing mechanics are inconsistent. He opens his hips too soon and can let his swing get long and armsy, meaning he is relying mostly on his arms to generate bat speed. He displays these qualities in the clip below:

Clip is on website.

Other times, Avery will maintain a shorter swing. However, he'll also get too handsy, pushing his hands out in front to achieve "extension," which is helps neutralize a player's power. The hands and hips should be turning together on a firm front leg.

Avery does display good bat speed when he lets the ball travel deep into his hitting zone, but he doesn't do that often enough. Avery's initial appearance in the Gulf Coast League was a mixed bag. He started off dreadfully (.482 OPS in June), but bounced back with a .744 OPS in July and a .681 OPS in August. He hit for a .280 average, but displayed little power (.057 ISO) and more importantly, displayed little plate discipline or patience (1:5 BB:K ratio and a base-on-balls percentage of just 5). Avery did show a good feel on the base paths with 13 steals in 16 attempts.

Avery has a lot of development ahead and likely won't find himself on a major league roster for years. On the plus side, as a center fielder, Avery's bat doesn't have to be special for him to succeed.

Link

Let's just hope the O's can turn him into a everyday MLB player.

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Ultimately, Avery's development will be in the hands of coaches, his aptitude to learn and hos work ethic.

I for one hate the idea of having to rely on our MiL coaches to develop him.

Not sure any organization is worse than us in that aspect.

Well, you just have to hope we are getting better in that respect. There have been a lot of personnel changes over the last 5-6 years. I do feel like 2008 was probably one of the best years we've had in terms of seeing guys who were considered good prospects when the year started continue to make progress.

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I'm not surprised by this ranking, but I don't agree with it. Avery's upside is supposedly Carl Crawford, and the likelihood that he'll reach his upside is low.

The thing is...Carl Crawford is a very good baseball player, but he's not a GREAT baseball player. I wouldn't trade Nick Markakis straight up for Carl Crawford--would you? Crawford has great speed and defense, but he doesn't hit a lot of home runs or get on base a ton.

If we drafted a raw prospect who had a small chance of becoming the next Albert Pujols, I could see getting excited...but Carl Crawford?

I wouldn't take comparisons literally. Saying his upside is Carl Crawford is a short-hand way of saying similar tool set to [iNSERT RECOGNIZABLE MLB PLAYER]. What you should focus on is how the player grades out and create a fictional player in your head -- then ask yourself how you value that player:

So, for me, I personally see his ceiling as OF with plus-speed, okay arm and good hands. Offensively I see someone who may not hit for great average, but has a lot of potential power and great hand-eye coordination. Left-handed hitter with 80-speed that helps OBP if he can bunt and bring a slap-hit approach.

Let's call it:

Hitting - 40

Power - 60

Speed - 80

Defense - 55

Arm - 45

That's certainly an everyday ML LF and probably a slightly above-average LF. If he plays in CF as Tony and the Orioles believe he can, his value goes up even more. To be honest, these grades are not that far off from Adam Jones, though his defense and arm are both better.

All that said, that's just how I personally would go about trying to place a value on someone like Avery who is both raw and far away from a potential ML debut, but one of the best athletes in the whole '08 draft class.

As an aside, if Avery had Markakis-type upside it would likely manifest itself with cleaner mechanics but less athletic development thus far. In that instance, I think you'd see him ranked around the same place now, but with a higher ceiling and higher projection (since more would be hinging on the future physicality of the player, and not necessarily his baseball development). You see this with lots of Latin American teenagers, including kids like Triunfel, Andrus, FMart, Bourbon, etc., who have great baseball skills but are too young to fully project, physically, when they are brought into the system.

Just my $.02

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THT's review of Avery:

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Let's just hope the O's can turn him into a everyday MLB player.

That was my write up on Avery and I'll expand on it here and go into why I've voted for Monantez since 12.

I had Patton #13, so that wasn't a big deal. And I voted for him over Hoes and Bundy as a matter of philosophy in that both are so young and far away that I rate them lower than somebody that I think has a chance to be a solid player at the major league level right now, though not as a full time starter.

However, I think Hoes and Bundy are both justified to be rated higher in my mind because their upsides are higher and if they should reach the major league level, they will be playing at their peak level for a longer period than Montanez.

But I do have to disagree on Avery. The probability he becomes anything more than a fourth outfielder is a major long shot.

Avery has so much to work on and some of those things that need improvement are the hardest to actually improve upon (pitch recognition, plate discipline, etc).

I've seen the Carl Crawford comparison, but 1.) how many potential Carl Crawfords become Carl Crawford-type players? 2.) Is the Crawford comparison mostly a physical/athleticism comparison or do does Avery actually have Crawford's raw power, hand-eye coordination, and baseball skills?

I think the bottom line for me is that Avery is long shot to even become a major league player and a major long shot to actually become a regular contributor at the major league level.

Yes, he's a great athlete and there are a good amount of physical tools to work with, but I would rate him behind somebody that is already a safe bet to be a major league contributor.

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That was my write up on Avery and I'll expand on it here and go into why I've voted for Monantez since 12.

I had Patton #13, so that wasn't a big deal. And I voted for him over Hoes and Bundy as a matter of philosophy in that both are so young and far away that I rate them lower than somebody that I think has a chance to be a solid player at the major league level right now, though not as a full time starter.

However, I think Hoes and Bundy are both justified to be rated higher in my mind because their upsides are higher and if they should reach the major league level, they will be playing at their peak level for a longer period than Montanez.

But I do have to disagree on Avery. The probability he becomes anything more than a fourth outfielder is a major long shot.

Avery has so much to work on and some of those things that need improvement are the hardest to actually improve upon (pitch recognition, plate discipline, etc).

I've seen the Carl Crawford comparison, but 1.) how many potential Carl Crawfords become Carl Crawford-type players? 2.) Is the Crawford comparison mostly a physical/athleticism comparison or do does Avery actually have Crawford's raw power, hand-eye coordination, and baseball skills?

I think the bottom line for me is that Avery is long shot to even become a major league player and a major long shot to actually become a regular contributor at the major league level.

Yes, he's a great athlete and there are a good amount of physical tools to work with, but I would rate him behind somebody that is already a safe bet to be a major league contributor.

Respectfully, I disagree a bit. I agree Avery is a project, but he played an entire summer last year on the HS showcase circuit and more than held his own against the top HS talent around. He faced some great pitching, and while he was inconsistent at times he was able to square-up on the ball and demonstrated solid raw power (particularly in BP, though). I think his level of success, given his poor swing mechanics, is ample evidence that he has solid hand-eye coordination, and the power he generates is primarily through his bat speed (which is a good start, considering his swing plane and path to the ball can both be improved). My issue is how Baltimore tries to shape him. I think they'll likely look at his progress after two seasons and figure out whether it's worth trying to max out his power, or if they should focus on trying to mold him into a speedy slap-hitter that hits towards the bottom of a lineup.

I absolutely agree issues like pitch-ID and strike-zone command will be the most difficult to overcome. Also, solid write-up.

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