Rodney Linares had heard good talk about Adam Bailey.
But until arriving at Kissimmee, Fla., for spring training earlier this year, the Lexington Legends manager had not seen much of Bailey.
Well, seeing is believing.
Two games into the second half of the South Atlantic League season, Bailey shares the league lead in games played, having been in 70 of the Legends' 72 contests.
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The 23-year-old right fielder, one of four Legends to take part in last week's All-Star Game, leads the league in outfield assists with 12. That's quadruple his number of errors (3).
His offensive numbers, through Thursday, include team-leading totals of 41 runs, 80 hits and 139 total bases. Add to that a .292 batting average, 14 homers, 46 RBI, 13 doubles, a .336 on-base percentage and .507 slugging.
"Brought him here and, probably after 10 games, put him in the three hole, and he's run away with it," Linares said. "He's probably been my most consistent hitter all year. He does his work."
Bailey came out of spring ablaze, batting .325 in April and .306 in May. He has dropped to .238 in June.
Highlights include a pair of two-homer games, plus a 13-game hitting streak.
"I started out pretty strong," he said. "Right now, I'm kind of leveling out and I'm trying to start a whole 'nother season. Hopefully I can start out as hot as I did at the beginning of 'last' season — the first half."
A 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, Bailey bats and throws lefty. He says a key to re-firing his stroke is adjusting to the pitchers, most of whom have seen him already this season.
His power numbers have not come from pulling the ball.
"Every pitcher has a different attack against you, and I try to look the other way," Bailey said. "I try to hit everything line-drive the other way. Because everybody can pull it, and a lot of pitchers aren't going to go in, especially with the yard we have in right (318 feet down the line). So I just try to look away."
That falls in line with what Linares wants. The manager says that Bailey has plenty of power to the pull side, but he's more consistent to the opposite field. And consistency is the goal.
Selected by the Houston Astros in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft, Bailey played outfield and pitched at Arizona State and South Mountain (Ariz.) Community College. He finally landed at the University of Nebraska, where he has a year of classes left to complete requirements for a degree in communications with a minor in psychology.
In two seasons as a Cornhusker, he batted .348 with 30 homers and 99 RBI over 104 games.
Post-baseball days, he says he'd like to be an Animal Cop (arresting people who abuse animals) or a comedian.
A geography-based career might not be a bad choice, either.
Born in Colorado Springs, Bailey lived in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. He spent his high school years and two years of middle school in Scottsdale, Ariz., "so I consider that home."
His father, Scott, is chief financial officer of a hospital in Alaska. His mother, Brenda, works at a college in Colorado. And sister Erica works for CBS Radio in Boston.
For now, Bailey's geographic interest is to one day tour big-league cities as a player.
With the promotion this week of all-star teammates Jiovanni Mier and Chris Wallace, Linares knows that Bailey — or all-star third baseman Mike Kvasnicka — could follow at any time.
"I'd love to have (Bailey) all year, but I've always said I don't put the team in front of one guy's progress," Linares said. "He's done enough, but I think he's going to benefit from being the guy down here and putting up his good numbers. But if they call and ask 'who's the guy that's ready to go?' he's next in line after Jio and 'Wally' and those guys. Him and 'Kvas' have been consistent all year."