In 2010, Adam led the Pioneer League in hitting (.385) and on-base percentage (.500).
In the spring of 2011, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Eaton as the 30th-best prospect in the Diamondbacks' organization. He moved all the way up to #12 in the winter before 2012 spring training. And he took another big jump—up to third-best prospect in the D'Backs farm system in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened.
At 5-foot-8, Adam Eaton is often the shortest player on the field. Just as often, Eaton is the most efficient leadoff hitter, the best defensive outfielder, and the most likely to take the extra base.
Adam receives his inspiration in the words of his late uncle Dave, who died from cancer a few years ago. "Like he always said, 'dynamite comes in small packages,'" Eaton said. "You can't get bigger than yourself. Being a smaller guy, your job is to get on base. My approach is to scrap a hit, scrap a walk, scrap a hit by pitch. Anything I can do, it doesn't matter. Just get on and try to put pressure on a defense."
Eaton plays with a dirtbag mentality. He is an extremely aggressive player who is wired to win.
"He's going to get us into a few fights,” one D-backs coach says. “I don’t look to start fights,” Eaton says, “but they do tend to follow me.” On his cell phone, Eaton keeps a list of people who doubted he’d make the Major Leagues. “I love that chip on his shoulder he carries around,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson says.
The Diamondbacks called up Adam to The Show on September 4, 2012. When he found out he could not get a flight to San Francisco in time, he and his fiancee, Katie, got in the car and drove. Traffic delayed their journey, but Eaton made it to AT&T Park on time for batting practice.
"It was time to think about it, and Katie and I had some good talks about this journey," Eaton said. "It's been a journey, that's for sure. Most people only think from college, but for me and my family, we really think back almost to when I could start walking. This kind of brings it all together. Just memories, growing up when you're the smallest kid and you don't know if you can do this and this and this, and to make it to the big leagues, it kind of all comes together."
Eaton is a grinder, someone who has a no-nonsense attitude and will occasionally rub the opposing team the wrong way because of it.
He is an exciting player. He exudes a positive energy, and he is in constant motion. James Taylor could have been talking about Eaton with the “a churning urn of burning funk” line he used in a long-ago song. Eaton’s Twitter handle includes the word “spanky.”
“He’s got that mentality to be a big leaguer and a really good one for a long time,” said teammate Cody Ross during 2013 spring training.
"He has that edge, that chip on his shoulder. He wants to prove it, to show people that he is capable,” Ross continued.
In 2012, Adam led the minor leagues in hits and runs. He won the Pacific Coast League MVP and rookie of the year awards after leading the league in hitting (.381), on-base percentage (.456), runs (119), hits (186), doubles (46), steals (38), and total bases (263). That season, the Diamondbacks named Eaton their Minor League Player of the Year.
Tucked away in the notes section of an old iPhone is the fuel that Adam Eaton uses to drive that extra mile.
When you're a 5-foot-8, 19th-round draft pick like the D-backs outfielder is, you're going to have plenty of people doubt your abilities.
So since graduating from high school, Eaton has kept that file in his phone filled with positive, motivating quotes, facets of his game he wants to work on, and, oh yes, there is also a list of the slights he has endured.
"Just little things I'll pick up here and there," Eaton said. "Things that I may have seen along the way that may have rubbed me the wrong way that I want to remember. Some college recruiter said, 'If you have two guys with the same attributes, a smaller guy and a taller guy, you always go with the taller guy.' Stuff like that will get me through a workout or help me get to the cage to take a couple of extra swings."
- After Eaton homered in a March exhibition game, he nearly passed pitcher Trevor Cahill, who was on base at the time. It doesn't even seem right to call it a home run "trot" for Eaton—it's more like a sprint.
"The game takes long enough as it is and no one wants to watch me just trot around the bases," Eaton said. "They don't want to see that. Just hit your home run, get around the bases and let the next guy hit. It's nice to enjoy it, but just act like you've done it before."
Eaton has sprinted around the bases throughout his pro career and has heard from teammates as well as his wife, Katie, that he should slow down and enjoy the moment.
"I'm sure if I hit it in the World Series, I may slow down," he said with a laugh.
Adam has been full of energy from the time he was a young player coached by his father through his years in college, when he was a second-team all-Midwest region player his final two years. He has been made five all-star teams in his three minor league seasons, and he was named the PCL’s Most Exciting Player and Best Baserunner in the annual Best Tools survey of league managers.
“Well, I’m 5-8,” Eaton said of his height. “I have to have an edge. You want to have that little chip, that small-man syndrome, that Napoleon syndrome. You have to have that to play at this size at this level.”
D-Backs Triple-A Reno manager Brett Butler rates Eaton as the second-best player he has had in his time in the organization, behind only outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. And he raves about Eaton’s capacity to listen, learn, and implement while playing at such a high level.
"I would like to think I’m kind of a Lenny Dykstra/Kenny Lofton mix,” Eaton said. “Kind of a guy that’s going to be a scrappy dirtbag guy and get after it day in and day out. But hopefully I’ll bring a little finesse, bring a little speed and quickness and score some runs. If I can hang my hat on a .300 (batting average), score 100 runs with an on-base percentage around .400, I think I’d have a heck of a year. I think it’s definitely doable.”
Eaton has been confused with former Padre pitcher Adam Eaton. On one instance, he received six checks from MLB worth $20,000 each, and has received fan mail meant for the other Adam Eaton.
- Eaton is married to former Miami University of Ohio softball pitcher Katie Osburn Eaton.
Early in 2014 spring training, Adam was with his new team, the White Sox, when a former, unnamed teammate with the Diamondbacks, state that his excitement for his job was annoying.
While it is true that Eaton is a happy guy and an enthusiastic talker who expresses passion for baseball. Adam
made friends quickly on the Sox. Accepting an invitation from Paul Konerko to hit at his home during the offseason was a good start.
“You spend time with him, you spend time with the whole organization,’’ Eaton said.
New teammates have asked him about the Diamondbacks thing, wondering what that was all about.
“I wasn’t really sure, to be honest," Eaton said. “I thought I had a good rapport with all those guys. Usually, there’s one teammate who rubs you the wrong way, but that guy happened to speak up.
“I’m getting along great with all these guys, and I thought the same thing with the Diamondbacks, I really did. I didn’t think I rubbed people the wrong way. I am energetic, and I love to play the game, and I don’t think I need to change that. Bring that kid mentality to the game. It’s fun. I hate that I offended somebody in the clubhouse. If I knew who it was, I would definitely apologize and talk to him to try to be a better teammate.’’
On Adam's first date with his wife Katie, he took her to the batting cage after dinner to see if he could hit her pitching. Katie was a softball pitcher for Miami University in Ohio. When asked, he said her pitching was nothing to mess with. He said she had a drop curveball that was not for him.
Adam is the fourth player from his high school to reach the major leagues. The others were Dave Burba, Rick White and Dustin Hermanson.
Adam's college snack: Ramen-flavored sunflower seeds. Think about it—everyone loves those cheap, delicious, life-sustaining bricks of ramen noodles. And everyone loves sunflower seeds. As Eaton explains it:
"It'd be easy—chicken-flavored ramen noodles and make it into a sunflower seed. When I was in college, that's what I lived off of … just put in some seeds and get the little chicken pack, and just put the pack in your mouth with the seeds, and all of a sudden you have ramen-noodle flavored seeds. Instant."
2016 Spring Training: (March 15) Eaton led off as the White Sox designated hitter, but he wasn't the only Eaton getting in some game action. Katie Eaton, Adam's wife, was in a broadcast booth doing analysis for a broadcast on whitesox.com, and when the leadoff hitter came up a second time, she gave her assessment.
"He's all right, I guess," Katie said, adding she'd probably like him better once he loses the beard. (John Schlegel - MLB.com)
Adam says he has one really bad habit: chewing his nails. "There's no question it's chewing my nails. I can't stand it—so disgusting yet hard to stop. I hide my nails from people. I have quit so many times, and then one nervous moment and I am biting them again." (March 2016)
2016 Spring Training: Like they do every day, autograph seekers lined up along the chain-link fence between the Chicago White Sox's clubhouse and their practice fields. And like he does most every day, Adam Eaton, the White Sox outfielder, stopped during spring training to sign his name on some baseballs. Eager fans yelled his name, trying to catch his eye. But off in the corner, a 6-year-old boy named Trevor King grabbed Eaton's attention.
"Mr. Eaton," he said, in that type of cute kid voices that melts your heart.
So Eaton jogged over. When he looked at Trevor, he saw a young boy who was born blind because his eyes never developed in the womb. He wore a White Sox T-shirt, a worthwhile choice for his first trip to MLB spring training.
"How are you?" Eaton said, as he reached down to shake Trevor's hand. Matt King, Trevor's dad, turned his son a bit and helped the youngster's hand connect with Eaton's. At that moment, a bond was formed—even if for only a few minutes that existed outside of Eaton's daily baseball routine.
Eaton signed a baseball, then agreed to take a photo, but he didn’t stop there. He reached over the fence, grabbed Trevor and lifted him onto the player's walkway. If they were going to take a picture together, they were going to take a good one. Once Trevor was back with his family, Eaton dug into his equipment back and pulled out a bat. That belonged to Trevor now.
“You can have that too,” Eaton said, handing him a pair of batting gloves.
It was a tender moment and one that’s not uncommon for Eaton, who is one of baseball’s most inviting players — whether it’s engaging fans on social media, playing video games online fans or visiting sick kids in the hospital.
Why? Because he knows what it’s like to be a kid and look up to ballplayers.
“You always have to give back to those kids because at one point or another, you were that kid,” Eaton said. “I try to make it special for them, something they’ll remember, because I know I wanted that to happen when I was a kid.” (Mike Oz - Yahoo Sports - March 2016)
April 9, 2016: Eaton's terrific start to the season was put on a short hiatus, as he joined his wife, Katie, for the birth of their first child. Their son, Brayden, arrived at 7 pounds, 1 ounce. April 11, 2016: Adam rejoined the White Sox team.
Adam's first interview as a new father was delayed a bit because the White Sox leadoff man was face-timing with his wife, Katie, and his newborn son, Brayden. Once Eaton started talking, though, he couldn't contain the excitement concerning the blessed event.
"It's a feeling like I've never had before. Something special, for sure," Eaton said with a broad smile affixed to his face. "I don't want to be cliché, but it definitely puts life in perspective. I revolve around this game. Everything revolved around baseball. When your wife goes into labor two nights ago, early morning, and is there all day, she works her butt off to have this child, how tough she is, and then the gift that you got out of it is truly special."
The Eatons were prepared for the birth of their child in 16 days, but the only problem was their preparation resided at their home in Brighton, Michigan. Katie was supposed to be in Chicago for the home opener at U.S. Cellular Field on April 8th and then drive home April 9th for a baby shower. Instead, Katie had to Skype into the shower from Rush University Medical Center. She went into labor the morning of the 9th and delivered that night.
"My mom and dad were there, her mom and dad were there. Her brother, her sister. All our family, except for my brother, who is stationed in Nebraska. He couldn't make it, of course. And with the rainout, my only missing one game was awesome. We are thrilled. But yeah, a little hazy." (Merkin - MLB.com - 4/11/16)
The Twitter account of Robin Eaton has not been active since around Valentine's Day 2015, but there's one post from a few years ago that seems especially fitting at this time of year. It's a picture of a very young Adam Eaton, eating spaghetti in his high chair, with the greeting "Happy 25th bday to my baby."
Robin Eaton's "baby" now serves as the leadoff hitter and right fielder for the Chicago White Sox. Eaton is happily married to Katie and is the father to Brayden, who was born on April 9, 2016, living a great life steeped in parental guidance from his youth.
"I wouldn't be here without them, especially my mother, with her trying to mold me into a person of good stature," Eaton said. "When she lays her head on her pillow at night, she knows she gave us everything she could. She did a heck of a job."
Eaton is the lone member of his family who didn't follow a military path. His father, Glenn, served in the Air Force and his brother, Zack, is currently serving. His mother served three years in the Army, and Eaton claims she is the best shot in the family. A great moment for the Eatons came last July 4 at U.S. Cellular Field, when Zack surprised Adam in center as one of the military members honored pregame.
"From a mother's point of view, what a blessing," said Robin, who was at the game with her husband and was totally surprised. "I just thought, 'This is an unreal moment.'" The youngest Eaton was a bit of a handful as a kid. But Robin Eaton said Adam had a great heart, and it was more along the lines that if there was something to get into, he would get into it.
As an example, Robin described a moment standing in the kitchen at the family's home in Springfield, Ohio, when she suddenly felt the windows shake. She ran out through the patio to find a young Adam having set off a rodent bomb that his father had hidden in the garage. His friends had talked about trying to find some fireworks, Adam thought he knew of some and barely escaped without serious injury.
"He's always been a people pleaser," Robin said. "And the boys in the neighborhood latched on to that pretty quickly, so whenever there was something dared to be done, it was, 'Adam, you go do it,' and he would, unfortunately. He was not afraid to do anything."
"I'm sure there were nights where she cried because I was such an idiot, and put so much turmoil on the family," Adam said. "But just unconditional love and being strong for the family is what I think of my mom as." That support included Eaton's early soccer days and even middle-school interest in the trombone.
"My heart is full," Robin said. "All moms are proud of their kids. I am most proud of him because of the family man that he has become. Certainly the career, that goes without saying, but he puts family first." (Merkin - MLB.com - 5/4/16)
Adam was asked what he would've been if not a ballplayer. "I would have been an occupational therapist," Eaton said. "I was a kinesiology major. I love the study of the human body. The amazing human anatomy can adjust to so many positive and negative elements. I loved the idea of helping people with life-changing injuries or illnesses. The human spirit can lift you beyond what science says is possible.," Adam said.
Asked how influenced him most in the game, Eaton said, "My father, and my uncle Dale. I still wear his number on my glove. Uncle Dale was a high school baseball coach in Cleveland, Ohio. He taught me to be a good human being. His teachings were to be a man on and off the field."
Adam says that he designed his game after Kenny Lofton: "He was my model. I grew up a big Tribe fan. My dad is from outside Cleveland."
Cars have become a self-admitted addiction for Eaton, and going around spotting and taking pictures of parked cars he finds cool while walking around -- or building and customizing cars himself -- has become one of his favorite hobbies.
Eaton's admiration for cars began as a youth when his father started drag racing. His dad would compete in the Stock Eliminator drag racing class, and Eaton still has fond memories of he and his brother helping try to cool down that 1972 Plymouth Duster.
"That's where I really fell in love with cars," he said. "The smell of the track, the smell of fuel. Guys working on cars. I'm not a gearhead by any stretch of the imagination -- I really wish I was -- just more of a car enthusiast."
Being in West Palm Beach has been perfect for Eaton.Eaton has been amazed by how many impressive cars he runs into seemingly on a daily basis. There was the Volkswagen with a 40-horsepower motor that he found in the parking lot at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches -- "It's different, so weird, but it's kind of neat. That's the kind of stuff that I like." -- or the Plymouth Superbird he spotted downtown by City Place. He spent a day earlier this spring getting a tour of South Beach Classics in Miami.
And then there are Corvettes, Eaton's favorite car growing up. He remembers pictures of himself near a Corvette as a 13-year-old boy with a wide grin from ear to ear. He vowed one day to be able to buy one for himself. Once he reached the Majors for the first time in 2012, as a September callup with the D-backs, he decided it was time for an upgrade. He traded in his Mazda with no air conditioning that had accumulated more than 150,000 miles, and bought his first Corvette, even though he was far from an established big leaguer.
"Financially, it wasn't probably the brightest idea in the world, to be honest with you," Eaton said with a laugh. "For me, that was motivation. Every time I sat in my car, I had a great time. But some days, when you left the field, [if] you didn't have a good day, you'd feel guilty driving it. Then when you had a good day, you drove home and you're like, 'You know what? I'm worth it.'"
Eaton currently owns four cars: A Toyota 4Runner for his wife, Katie, because it's built to last; a 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport that he contributed some engine and body modifications; a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V; and his everyday car, a Ford SVT Raptor built by SEMA -- one of the largest car and trade shows in the world -- which he drove from Michigan to Spring Training.
Although he has thought about it, Eaton is not sure he would ever follow in his father's footsteps and get into drag racing. He admits it's already an expensive hobby, and he never wants it to feel like another job.Eaton does have his eye on a few other cars -- he'd buy one on the spot if the long-rumored mid-engine Corvette ever gets created -- but for now, he seems content with what he has and happy to keep taking photos of any interesting cars he comes across.
"It's really an addiction," he said. (Jamal Collier/ MLB.com./March 15, 2017)
- June 2010: Eaton was the Diamondbacks' 19th round pick, out of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He signed with scout Frankie Thon Jr. for a bonus of $35,000.
December 10, 2013: In a three-team traded, the Diamondbacks received OF Mark Trumbo from the Angels, along with two players to be named, one from the White Sox (Brandon Jacobs), one from the Angels (A.J. Schugel). The D-Backs sent Eaton to the White Sox and LHP Tyler Skaggs to the Angels, who also received Hector Santiago.
March 20, 2015: Eaton signed a five-year, $23.5 million contract extension.
- Dec 7, 2016: Chicago White Sox traded RF Adam Eaton to Washington Nationals for RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Reynaldo Lopez and RHP Dane Dunning.
|Home:||N/A||Team:||NATIONALS - DL|
|Birth City:||Springfield, OH|
|Draft:||Diamondbacks #19 - 2010 - Out of Miami Univ. (OH)|
Eaton has a short lefthanded swing and an all-fields approach. He consistently makes hard contact, putting the bat on the ball and hitting line drives.
Most of Adam's power is to the gaps, but he hits a few dingers. He should be counted on for 10–12 per season. But really, his game revolves around his plus-plus speed, and he's able to use it consistently because he puts the ball in play frequently. He won't hit many home runs, but he gets on base and has some gap power.
- Eaton is a gamer with tools. he plays like his hair's on fire. And he can be a real catalyst at the top of the lneup.
Adam has a rather unorthodox style, with one scout comparing it to a Japanese approach in which he gets an early jump out of the batter's box.
"He has a high leg kick at times and I think that contributes to it a little. But, he’s done a much better job at calming things down and when he’s going well, he’s a line-drive hitter from the left-field line to right-center field.”
He draws about as many walks as he has strikeouts. He has leadoff-hitter ability. He consistently puts together good at-bats and gets on base.
“Obviously, the goal of a leadoff guy is to get on base,” Eaton said. “I’m looking for any way on, and if that means getting inside the other team’s head, or crowding the plate and taking a pitch in the back, you know, that’s good for us.”
His biggest drawback: The lefty hitting Eaton struggles to hit lefthanded pitchers, which may eventually relagate him to a platoon role. But he is working at improving.
"Just taking a little more inventory against lefties and hunkering down has been very beneficial,” Eaton said. “Before, I would get out on my front foot a lot. Coming out of that arm slot, I don’t have as much time to react against lefties since I can’t see it coming out as well as I can against righties. So, just getting myself in a position where I’m comfortable and know what the book is on the pitcher has been huge.”
- Eaton has a unique blend of attributes. He has the approach, bat-to-ball skills and instincts to become a sparkplug in every facet of the game.
- Adam gets hit by a lot of pitches.
When Eaton hits a home run, he doesn't do a home run trot. Instead, he runs around the bases at a relatively rapid pace. If runners are on base ahead of Adam, the better "giddyup," or he might pass them.
"The game takes long enough as it is and no one wants to watch me just trot around the bases," Eaton said. "They don't want to see that. Just hit your home run, get around the bases and let the next guy hit. It's nice to enjoy it, but at the same time, just act like you've done it and get around the bases."
Eaton has sprinted around the bases throughout his pro career and has heard from teammates as well as his wife, Katie, that he should slow down and enjoy the moment.
"I'm sure if I hit it in the World Series I may slow down," he said with a laugh.
In 2012, Triple-A Reno manager Brett Butler worked with him on bunting, and not just toward second base but down the line at third, too. The two talked situations, when to take pitches and when to be ready to make a quick strike.
In 2014, Eaton tied for the third-most hits to the opposite field in MLB. Adam had 67 opposite field hits. Dee Gordon led with 75.
Eaton had a WAR of 5.2 for the two seasons, 2013 and 2014.
In 2014, Adam lead the AL with 10 triples.
As of the start of the 2017 season, Eaton's career Major League stats were: .284 batting average, 34 home runs with 177 RBI's in 2,050 at-bats.
- Adam exhibits impressive instincts in the field. And his speed makes him a good center fielder with a lot of range. He has above average range at all three outfield positions, with plenty of arm for right field.
- Eaton's throws are accurate from that strong arm.
Adam has very good speed and impressive instincts on the bases. He uses that plus speed to create havoc against the opposition.
He has been clocked from home to first base on bunts and ground balls at 3.46 and 3.76 seconds, respectively–indicating that he’s at least a plus-plus runner.
- His speed is his best tool.
- Eaton gets to top speed quickly, making him a base-stealing threat.
April 30-May 7, 2011: Eaton was on the D
September 29, 2012: Eaton was diagnosed with a fractured right hand after being hit with a pitch in the seventh inning of the D'Back's 8-2 victory over the Cubs
March 22, 2013: The much anticipated rookie season of D-backs center fielder Adam Eaton was put on hold for 6-8 weeks after an MRI revealed a left elbow UCL sprain
May 20-July 9, 2013: Eaton was within days of his scheduled return to the Diamondbacks when he felt discomfort in the elbow during a rehab start Monday for Triple-A Reno. He returned for an examination the next day, saying the discomfort was in a different area of his elbow.
"It just feels like someone punched me in the stomach," he said. "It's tough to have a setback like this, but I have to try and learn what I can during this and go forward. Try to take as much good out of a bad situation."
May 3-18, 2014: Eaton was on the D.L. with a strained right hamstring.
August 9-26, 2014: Adam was on the D.L. wth a strained right oblique.
October 5, 2015: Eaton had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. It had been a problem he had played with since late July.