Earlier today, the Orioles acquired outfielder Adam Stern for a player to be named later or cash. Because the Devil Rays blocked Stern on Waivers in August, the deal had to be announced this way to avoid committing infractions, but Stern is essentially the return for catcher Javy Lopez.
Stern was a third round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2001 out of the University of Nebraska. He performed well in his pro debut, batting .307 and drawing plenty of walks in 75 at bats for Atlanta's New-York Penn League affiliate in Jamestown. The following year, he skipped a level and struggled for High-A Myrtle Beach. His walk rate dropped and his strikeout rate skyrocketed, resulting in a very empty .253 batting average. Back at Myrtle Beach in 2003, Stern again struggled. This time, however, injuries were partially to blame. 2004 saw the young outfielder sent to Atlanta's AA affiliate in Greenville, where he showed plenty signs of coming around. He hit .322/.378/.480 with 27 stolen bases in his age 24 season. Nevertheless, the Braves did not consider him worthy of protection on their 40-man roster and the Red Sox nabbed him in the Rule 5 draft.
2005 was a difficult season for Stern, as he lost development time to roster shenanigans and injuries and failed to produce in his very limited major league exposure. After the season, Stern had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. Sent back to the minors as a member of the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox in 2006, Stern struggled again. His middling .258 batting average was as bad as it looked; he failed to walk at an acceptable rate or hit for a lot of power.
Of course, Stern is probably most famous for his role in helping the Canadian national team beat the United States in the World Baseball Classic. In that game, he hit an inside-the-park home run and ended up a double short of the cycle. There was also some speculation that Stern might be handed the 2006 center field job in Boston, before they were able to procure Coco Crisp.
The 26 year old Stern is a capable defensive outfielder and can fill in at all three spots. Predictably, the lefty-hitting Stern is better against right-handed pitching, but not overwhelmingly so. He also hit better as the season went on, slugging .466 in June and .404 in July. There is always the hope that injuries have stalled Stern's development, but he appears unlikely to be much more than a reserve outfielder in the long run. The Orioles are expected give him an opportunity to make the club in spring training next year.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com