Shorebird of the Week – May 14, 2009

May 14, 2009 · Posted in Delmarva items, Delmarva Shorebirds, Sports 

He hadn't put his shades on before a recent Sunday afternoon contest, but the future can be bright for Xavier Avery if he learns the important art of stealing first base. Photo by Kimberley Corkran.
Xavier Avery at the plate during the home opener against Lake County.

For a guy born on the dawn of the 1990’s to be playing and excelling at this level of ball is pretty amazing, but after a slow start Xavier Avery is doing just that. Simply put, he’s been on a tear during the most recent homestand and carries a nice seven-game hitting streak into tonight’s contest at West Virginia.

Drafted second by the O’s last year out of Georgia’s Cedar Grove High School as the 50th pick overall, Avery obviously shows a lot of promise and might be the fastest Shorebird player.

Definitely a raw talent, Xavier started his pro career at the lowest minor league level, playing 47 games with the Gulf Coast League Orioles and hitting .280 with 13 steals and just 9 extra-base hits out of 49 hits overall.

At the end of April, Xavier was only hitting .185 for Delmarva – but a move down in the order after batting leadoff for the first few games gave Avery better pitches to hit and he eventually responded. With May nearly half over, Avery is crushing the ball at a .444 clip (16-for-36) this month and jumped his batting average nearly 100 points to a much more respectable .277 mark and .721 OPS number. He even hit his first professional home run in Greensboro.

Avery still has some work to do, though. As a leadoff hitter he certainly needs to draw walks and cut down on strikeouts and thus far in May he’s performed much better in that respect; his 23 strikeout/no walk April has been followed by a 7 strikeout/4 walk May. Perhaps the hardest thing to learn in baseball is how to steal first base.

Hopefully as Xavier gains experience in his first full season he’ll provide Shorebird fans with a great deal of excitement and opposing teams with serious heartburn as he stretches singles into doubles, doubles into triples, and walks into steals of second and third, maybe even home. Perhaps Shorebird skipper Orlando Gomez will try that rare feat at least once this year with him.

Regardless, Xavier Avery now gives the Shorebirds a nice offensive threat at the leadoff spot.

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