Paul Blair, Chuck Diering, Al Bumry, Brady Anderson, and Mike Devereaux have all manned center field for the Orioles in the past. While some of these players had some success during their Orioles career none of them ever attained superstar status in the majors. Well the Orioles have finally found the man ready to attain that status in Adam Jones; the man destined to be he greatest centerfielder in the history of the Baltimore Orioles.
Adam’s road to centerfield at the yard almost never came to be; when Adam was drafted by the Mariners with the 37th pick in the 2003 draft most believed the team had every intention of using the hard throwing kid from San Diego as a pitcher. Adam had other plans as he wanted to play everyday and began his career as a shortstop. Although he was adequate at short the Mariners acquired Yuniesky Betancourt and Adam was asked to move to centerfield. After three years and three position changes in the Mariners minor league system Adam got his first shot in the majors on July 12th, 2006. Over the next two years Adam would play in just 73 games hitting 3 home runs and driving in 12 runs. After his two years playing sparingly on Seattle’s major league club Jones was dropped off many top prospects lists and became an afterthought in the Seattle organization. Then on February 8th, 2008 in a John Dillinger style robbery Adam was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with four other prospects for Mr. Personality Erik Bedard.
Once in Baltimore Adam was told he would be given every opportunity to entrench himself as the Orioles everyday centerfielder and he didn’t disappoint. While going through the growing pains of any 22 year old rookie centerfielder, Adam showed a ton of promise. In 132 games for the birds he hit for a .270 average with 9 homers and 57 RBI’s. The one red flag raised offensively were his 108 strikeouts in 477 at bats; with many critics attacking his plate discipline and hitting eye. While Adam showed great potential in the batters box, perhaps the most intriguing part of Adam’s game was his immediate presence on defense, coming up with numerous spectacular plays and limiting the costly mistakes. Now in his second full season Adam seems to be locked in early and really seeing the ball well at the plate. He has been hitting doubles almost at will and his defense continues to impress. I honestly believe that Adam could eventually become a Torii Hunter type player; an outstanding defender who is good for 25 homers and 25 steals every year.
Not only is Adam endearing himself to Baltimoreans with his play on the field but his fun, exuberant personality reminds me of a young Ken Griffey Jr. Adam always seems to have a smile on his face and his bubble blowing while patrolling center really gives me a sense of a young kid playing the game and having fun in a time when many baseball players are stereotyped as cold and void of personality. Baltimore remember whenever you see number 10 out in center blowing his bubbles and joking around we may have one of the few six tool players in baseball; a guy who can hit for average, power, possesses great speed, plays great defense with a great arm, and has an actual personality. Mark my words Adam Jones will become the greatest centerfielder in Orioles history and a cornerstone of the Orioles future success.