Baltimore Orioles: "Around the Diamond": Center Field

Lawrence BarrecaAnalyst IDecember 13, 2008

This is now the seventh part in the multi-part series, "Around the Diamond," as today we take a glance into center field.

Last offseason, the Orioles were looking for change in the outfield. 

They needed a new left fielder to hit for power and a young center fielder to replace the speedy Corey Patterson.

After the Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada deals, they filled these spots. 

In my last article, I spoke of Luke Scott and his contributions in left field; today, we talk of Adam Jones in center.

When Jones came into the organization, many fans were excited to see the new, fresh talent coming to the team.  Jones, only 22 at the time of the trade, was the hottest commodity.

After Spring Training last season, the Orioles' management had to make a decision:  "Do we send him down to Triple-A to let him develop, or do we jump and make him our Opening Day starter in center field?" 

Early on in the Orioles' 2008 campaign, we saw as Jones ran into center field, as many of us were delighted to see him and Nick Markakis playing side-by-side, as they did earlier in their careers.

Jones played the entire season from there on (minus an injury that would bench him for a few weeks), and he produced like the O's were hoping that he would.

In his first full major league season, Jones hit for a .270 average, with nine home runs, 57 RBI, 61 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases.

Something else that is also worth noting:  At the beginning of the season, manager Dave Trembley placed Jones in the No. 8 spot in the batting order; during the second half of the season, Adam was proving himself from the No. 2 spot, something that many younger players do not adjust to quickly.

Adam Jones doesn't just have the bat; he also has a powerful arm. In his minor-league years, Jones was a shortstop; however, his one flaw at the position was his inability to throw the ball across the diamond and record an out. Instead, his throws would sail over the first baseman's head. This is when scouts knew that he had to make a change.

They would then put him in center, where his arm could be unleashed and his speed could become a vital weapon.  This move has worked out nicely, not only for the O's, but for Jones himself.

Now, many Orioles' fans seem confident that Jones will be with the team for the next five to 10 seasons, something that I personally believe.  Both he and Nick Markakis are expected to be future All-Stars, and both should get monster contracts during the next two seasons (hopefully, though, Markakis will get his this offseason).

With Jones patrolling center field, the O's future not only seems brighter, but it seems to be more exciting. 

While many people are pouting over the O's not getting Teixeira (I know it's not official yet, but word is that he's working on a deal with the Red Sox, if something changes, I'll have an update), others are looking forward to watching the young talent rise from the minors and face the challenges of the pro level.

Let's all just hope that Jones doesn't go into one of those "sophomore slumps." 

For the record, I don't think that he will.