Could Arizona Diamondbacks’ Adam Eaton Handle The Leadoff Role?

By Michael Terrill
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks are trying to figure out who will be a good fit in the leadoff role during the 2013 MLB season and many people in the organization believe that spot could belong to rookie outfielder Adam Eaton. Would Eaton be able to handle the role if given the opportunity?

The 24-year-old spent a majority of the 2012 season in the minors before being called up on Sept. 4 at which point he played in 22 games in the big leagues before breaking his right hand from a bad pitch. Eaton batted .375 with seven home runs, 48 RBI, 47 doubles, five triples and scored 130 runs in 613 plate appearances in Double-A as well as Triple-A. In the majors, he hit .259 with two homers and five RBI in 85 at-bats.

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson has admitted that he is unsure if Eaton will be starting in center field and in the leadoff spot come Opening Day but he is definitely giving the left-handed batter a chance at the job.

”You could see the kind of element that he could bring to a team,” Gibson said. ”We’ve never had a leadoff hitter since I’ve been here. That’s exciting. That changes the way our lineup goes. You get a guy that’s disruptive at the top of the lineup, that can get on base, that can chop the ball, put pressure on the infielders. He’s very aggressive on the bases.”

Eaton has 98 career stolen bases in the minors, including 44 last season alone. He was also able to steal two bases in the majors but got caught stealing three times. He has speed and athleticism, which is very exciting for the Arizona coaching staff. The coaches will be able to add to Eaton’s natural base stealing instincts in spring training and hopefully give him a better understanding of how to get it done at the professional level.

With the backing of the entire organization, including general manager Kevin Towers, Eaton should have enough confidence to win the job outright.

”I’d like to give it to Eaton just because of the speed dynamic that he brings,” Towers said. ”I mean, depending if we go with (Aaron) Hill or (Martin) Prado in the 2-hole, we’ve got good contact hitters right behind him. You can hit and run, you do a lot of things. It’s not only his threat to steal second but he was very effective in the minor leagues at stealing third as well.”

If the Ohio native wants to be the leadoff hitter for the Diamondbacks this season, he will have to go out and earn it. Gibson is not interested in handing the job to anyone even if the youngster has shown plenty of potential to handle the position. It will take the entire spring training for him to prove his worth, but come Opening Day everyone on the team is confident Eaton can emerge as the top candidate.

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