From young minor league prospects to rookie big-league talent, Prospect Press will be providing an inside look at baseball's best talent for years to come. Today's Prospect Press focuses on Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Eaton.
Prospect Press: Adam Eaton, Arizona Diamondbacks
Monday September 24th, 2012
After earning numerous awards in 2012, including the Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Coast League, 23-year-old prospect Adam Eaton was rewarded with a big-league call-up for the Arizona Diamondbacks in September.
Drafted in the 19th round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Eaton hit a combined .375/.456/.523 with 44 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A. In Triple-A Reno, where he spent a majority of his season, Eaton hit .381/.456/.539 with 38 stolen bases and 263 total bases.
In his three year minor league career, Eaton is a .355/.456/.510 hitter with 98 stolen bases, but has yet to be ranked among a top prospect in the Diamondbacks organization according to Baseball America, likely due to his 5-foot-8-inch frame and the fact that the D-Backs have a loaded minor league system. However, during a recent prospect chat on Baseball America, author Jim Callis mentions:
"[Eaton]At every level he's played at in pro ball, he has shown a plus bat, speed and defensive skills to go with some gap power."
Callis also adds:
"[Eaton]he has a shot to be a regular in the majors. If not, he'd make a good fourth outfielder"
Looking towards the future, based on his current playing situation and offensive numbers at the leadoff spot, Arizona is taking that exact approach. With a slumping Chris Young to the bench, Arizona has given Eaton regular at-bats in the top spot of the order while playing him in center field. In 76 plate appearances since being recalled, Eaton has posted a .246/.380/.431 triple-slash line along with 2 stolen bases. He's also shown a little gap power during his 16 games , as he's hit two home runs to right center field.
Although he hit for a high batting average in the PCL (known as a hitter's league) - his batting average wasn't totally driven by the league's good fortune towards hitters. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) over 118 games at Reno was .432. While the league average on balls in play is much lower, Eaton has always posted high BABIP numbers during his professional career. Across 250 career minor league games, Eaton has a .398 BABIP, and shown from hitting balls on the fround and line drives, that his higher than normal BABIP is a sustainable number. While unlikely that he'll post a .375-to-.400 BABIP in the majors, he's certainly capable of having a .330-to-.350 batting average on balls in play. Another factor to consider when counting on Eaton is his low strikeout totals and above above average walk totals. He's shown discipline at the plate over his career, and that should translate over to his big-league plate appearances.
The lefty outfielder has also shown he's capable of hitting both left and right handed pitchers, as he has a .320/.421/.402 line in 293 plate appearances against lefties in the minors, with a .357/.453/.526 line against righties over 871 plate appearances.
Moving forward, it's likely that Eaton will see an extended look at the leadoff spot for Arizona in 2013. Although current D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson has tinkered with his leadoff hitter over the past two seasons, Eaton's numbers across the minor league levels are hard to ignore. However, Arizona will have to decide on whether or not to bench a few players or make trades during the off-season. Jason Kubel and Chris Young are locked up for 2013, along with Justin Upton, currently signed through 2015.
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