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Nick Markakis

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Nicholas William Markakis

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[edit] Biographical Information

Nick Markakis is an outfielder with the Baltimore Orioles who has played as a regular since he made his major league debut in 2006.

He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 35th round of the 2001 amateur draft out of high schoo, but continued on to junior college. In 2002, Nick hit .455, slugged .885, cracked 17 homers and drove in 74 as a freshman in college, playing DH. Pitching as well, he went 11-3 with 98 Ks in 91 innings but a 4.53 ERA. Baseball America named him their Junior College Player of the Year. In the 2002 amateur draft, the Reds took him in the 23rd round as a draft-and-follow pick.

Markakis became the first two-time winner of that award in 2003 when he had "one of the greatest two-way seasons in junior college history" according to Baseball America. He went 12-0 with a 1.68 ERA and hit .439 with 21 homers. At the plate, he led the nation in RBI (92) and on the mound, he led in strikeouts (160). He turned a $1.5 million offer from the Reds and re-entered the draft. The Baltimore Orioles took him with the 7th overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft and he was signed by scout Dave Jennings for a $1,850,000 bonus. In the 2003 European Championship, Markakis batted .323/~.364/.355 but led the Greek national team with 7 RBI in 8 games to help them finish in second place. He also pitched one scoreless inning.

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Nick began his professional career with the Aberdeen Ironbirds. Used solely in the outfield, he hit .283/.372/.395 and he was picked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the New York-Penn League. Markakis represented Greece in the 2004 Olympics and led the club with a .346 average, slugging .577. He hit .299/.371/.470 for the Delmarva Shorebirds at age 20 that year.

In 2005, Markakis hit .300/.379/.480 with the Frederick Keys, earning an August call-up to the Bowie BaySox, where he batted .339/.420/.573. He hit 41 doubles that year. Continuing to earn high praise from Baseball America, he was picked as the Orioles Minor League Player of the Year, the #6 prospect in the Eastern League, the top batting prospect, power prospect and strike-zone judgement hitter in the Carolina League and the #2 prospect in that loop, between Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Anibal Sanchez. He made the Carolina League All-Star team and was 7th in the league in average.

Nick became the regular 2006 Orioles right fielder and batted .291/.351/.448 for the season. However, he started very slowly, hitting only .182 in April, and while he improved each month, he was still hitting only .257 at the end of June. Hitting over .400 in July and over .350 in August helped a lot to raise his average. He played 161 games in 2007, hitting 43 doubles,d 23 homers and 112 RBI as part of a batting line of .300/.362/.485, making him an outstanding offensive performer, although just a notch below All-Star level. Even though he was only 23 at the time, he never took that last step to stardom, but instead settled at that level, collecting an OPS+ above 100 year after year and standing out as the most dependable player on a perennially week Orioles team.

In 2008, Markakis had his best season, hitting .306 with 48 doubles and 20 homers in 157 games. His 106 runs scored were a career high, as was his OPS+ of 136. In 2009, he fell back slightly, to .293/.347/.453 in 161 games. He collected 101 RBI that season, then in 2010 hit .297 in 160 games. He continued with his large number of doubles, with 45, his fourth-straight season over 40, but his home run production fell to only 12. As a result, and with the Orioles struggling even more than usual,he scored only 79 runs and drove in a mere 60. In 2011 however, he fell to .284 in 160 games, with 31 doubles and 15 homers, the lowest number of extra-base hits in his career. However, he won a Gold Glove as one of the American League's best defensive outfielders, and his OPS+ was still well positive at 107.

In 2012, the Orioles suddenly became good in a completely unexpected development. Markakis was his usual self, hardly missing a game, hitting just below .300, while producing his share of extra-base hits and drawing a large number of walks. In mid-season, he was moved to the lead-off spot in the line-up, after injuries to Brian Roberts and Nolan Reimold, and he did very well, hitting .336 in the role. He was hitting .297/.361/.471 in 103 games with 13 homers in 103 games when his thumb was fractured by a CC Sabathia pitch in the 5th inning of a key game against the New York Yankees on September 8th. He had already missed the month of June with a broken hamate bone in his right hand - the first time he had missed any playing time since coming up in 2006 - and the second fracture put him out for the rest of the season with his team tied with the Yankees with three weeks left to play.

Sources: 2002-2006 Baseball Almanacs, 2003 European Championship stats

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