As was widely reported earlier in the week, Michael Morse was claimed by the Baltimore Orioles on waivers Wednesday, giving them exclusive negotiating rights with the Seattle Mariners to try and work out a trade within the allowed 48-hour window. Well, unlike so many of these waiver claims throughout the league, this one actually worked.
The Mariners have traded Morse to the Orioles in exchange for 23-year-old, left-handed hitting outfielder Xavier Avery.
Avery, who appeared in 32 games for Baltimore last season, is a speedster that has stolen 168 bases in 672 career minor league games. He has split time in Double-A and Triple-A in their system this season and struggled to a .259/.340/.345 slash in 120 games. He's hit only .237/.312/.312 for Triple-A Norfolk this season in 81 of those games and is at .236/.322/.337 with 179 strikeouts in 183 games at the Triple-A level combined over the last two seasons. He is hitting .274/.362/.354, dropping his strikeout rate to 18.8% and increasing his walk rate to 11.3% over his last 133 plate appearances, so there seems to be some signs of him understanding his ideal profile better, which is something that the Mariners' Player Development Department preaches.
The former 2nd round draft pick out of Cedar Grove High School in Georgia -- where he was also a standout running back for the football team -- is in his 6th season of pro ball and still needing to make big improvements in his plate discipline and pitch recognition. A 70 runner with an athletic frame, Avery is a strong defender in center field that is able to cover the ground and get the jumps necessary to remain at the position. His arm is considered below average. While he was initially assigned to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers per the Mariners' press release, Avery is on the 40-man roster, and with his service time the Mariners will have to make a decision on whether or not they want to retain the outfielder past this season, making it very likely that he will be called up to Seattle in early September. Baseball America had him rated as the Orioles No. 7 prospect, MLB.com had him ranked as their 10th best prospect and Baseball Prospectus mentioned him as a player to watch on their farm heading into the 2013 season.
Morse had a monster spring training and got off to a great start with Seattle in the regular season, too, hitting six home runs in the season's first nine games and providing the club with the middle of the order punch that they'd been lacking over the past several seasons. But he's been injured twice, been a liability in the outfield defensively and is slugging just .356 over his last 64 games and is hitting just .158/.200/.289 with 23 strikeouts since returning from missing 32 games from a quadriceps injury.
Morse figures to serve as Baltimore's primary DH down the stretch.
Looking for more Mariners news, articles and player interviews? Want to keep up with which prospects are hot and cold for the M's? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse site Editor Rick Randall on Twitter at @randallball.