|Keith Allison via Flickr (CC by 2.0)|
True story. When I originally heard the Braves signed a new outfielder, my first thought was, “Xavier Nady is still around?”
But that was not to be as the Braves added local product Xavier Avery to a minor league pact. The left-hand hitting outfielder just turned 27 on New Year’s Day and graduated from Cedar Grove High School (Ellenwood, GA) back in 2008. That was when the Orioles picked him in the second round. He quickly inked a contract with the O’s to begin his career.
Not Nady’s minor league career includes one year of double-digit homeruns, two years of 30+ doubles, five seasons of 30+ stolen bases, and a career-best .756 OPS in 2014 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. In addition to his time with the O’s, Avery has played for the Mariners and in one year, had runs with the Triple-A squads for the Tigers, Twins, and Giants. Last year, his ninth year in professional ball, was a homecoming of sorts as he returned to the Orioles’ organization and hit .248/.332/.363 in the International League.
Avery’s greatest asset is the ability to play a passable center field – though Clay Davenport’s metrics paint the picture of someone better suited for left field. Regardless, it’s not like the Braves don’t need bodies for the outfield. With Connor Lien likely returning to Mississippi while Dustin Peterson climbs to Gwinnett, the rest of the Gwinnett outfield includes holdovers Ronnier Mustelier, Mel Rojas Jr., and Matt Tuiasosopo along with newcomer Lane Adams. Of course, there’s also the possibility of Emilio Bonifacio. That doesn’t include the chance that one of the previous names will make the final roster coming out of spring training as a 4th outfielder.
Avery is unlikely to be part of that mix, though he did have a 32-game run in the majors back in 2012. Nevertheless, you need bodies at Triple-A and Avery is that.
For all of the Braves’ minor league free agent comings and goings, you can see this page.