Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder Adam Eaton is expected to win the starting center field position vacated by Chris Young when he was traded to Oakland this off-season. Mandatory Credit: Kelley A. Cox, USA Today Sports, 9/25/12
As the disappointing 2012 season came to an end for the Arizona Diamondbacks, fans were able to get a glimpse of a player that the organization has high hopes for in the near future. Adam Eaton was called up to the majors on September 4th as the season was winding down. His play throughout the past three seasons in the minor leagues was the primary reason that the D’Backs felt that starting center fielder Chris Young was expendable. The lack of a lead-off hitter is what drove this move and Eaton is being counted on to win the center field job and lead-off role for the ‘Snakes in Spring Training.
The 24 year-old outfielder from Ohio was drafted in the 19th round in the 2010 MLB Draft by Arizona. He played his college baseball at Miami University of Ohio and is known for his blinding speed and his knack for getting on base.
In 2010, Eaton played Rookie league ball in Missoula and posted a .385 batting average with 7 home runs and 37 RBI’s in 68 games with the Osprey. What was more impressive was his .500 on-base percentage and his 20 stolen bases which alerted the brass in the organization that a potential lead-off hitter was apparent in the organization.
In 2011, Eaton split time with Class A Visalia and Class AA Mobile. He went on to post solid numbers in his second season in the minors, hitting .318 with 10 home runs and 68 RBI’s in 121 games. His .434 OBP and 34 stolen bases were a progression based on the stiff competition he was facing.
In 2012, Eaton split time between Class AA Mobile and Class AAA Reno. His numbers were outstanding, hitting .375 with 7 home runs and 48 RBI’s in 130 games. His .456 OBP and 44 stolen bases showed that Eaton’s level of play increased as the competition increased.
When Eaton was called up at the end of last season, it served as an audition for the rookie outfielder. He played in 22 games and hit .259 with two home runs and five RBI’s. His on-base percentage was .382 and he stole two bases in action with the Diamondbacks.
While his debut (22 games) wasn’t stellar, Eaton still will have a chance to prove himself during camp. The outfield position battle will be fierce this season if the D’Backs are done making roster moves. Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, AJ Pollock and Eaton will all compete for four spots on the roster.
Eaton is a spark plug. His hustle is contagious and he possesses what you want in a lead-off hitter: speed, tenacity and the ability to reach base often are prerequisites as a lead-off hitter and Eaton has those qualities. That gives him a leg- up over the competition when it comes to filling in the outfield roles for the 2012-13 season.