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Xavier Paul

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Xavier Brooks Paul Jr.

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Xavier Paul made his major league debut for the Dodgers in 2009.

Paul was a top prospect for years. In 2000, he was 4 for 9 and pitched 3 innings (0.00 ERA, 4 BB, 3 K) for Team USA in the Pan American Youth Championships; he was second on the US in average and one of three hurlers with a virgin ERA. In the 2001 World Youth Championship, he was 1 for 4 with 2 runs as a backup outfielder behind Lastings Milledge, Mike Rodgers and Daniel Perales.

Paul attended Slidell High School and was a Baseball America second-team high school All-American in 2003. He had hit .391 that year with 31 runs and 9 home runs in 69 AB, while stealing 18 bases. Paul was picked in the fourth round of the 2003 amateur draft by the Dodgers. He was signed by scout Clarence Johns and started with the Ogden Raptors. Paul led the team in a number of categories, being chosen as the Dodgers' minor league player of the month in August. He hit .307/.384/.489 with 60 runs, 15 doubles, 6 triples and 7 home runs in 69 games. He tied for the Pioneer League lead in triples. Baseball America named him as the #5 prospect in the league.

In 2004, Paul played for the Columbus Catfish, batting .265/.342/.407; one of his teammates that year was his brother Matt Paul. Xavier was the team's youngest starting position player. Xavier was the Dodgers minor league player of the month in April.

Paul was again briefly his brother's teammate in 2005, now with the Vero Beach Dodgers. Xavier hit .247/.328/.392, struggling significantly against left-handers (.134 average). He had 8 assists in 56 games and Baseball America rated him as having the best oufield arm in the Dodgers chain.

In 2006, Paul returned to Vero Beach to bat .285/.343/.430. He stole 22 bases but was caught 15 times. He struck out 114 times while drawing only 38 walks in 120 games. Two positives were his first double-digit home run season (13) and a .259 average against southpaws, a vast improvement. He tied Hernan Iribarren for the most times caught stealing in the Florida State League. Paul batted .213/.304/.315 for the 2006 North Shore Honu.

Paul spent 2007 with the Jacksonville Suns, the team's second-youngest regular after Blake Dewitt joined the club. He hit .291/.366/.429 with 11 home runs and 17 steals in 26 tries. He was the youngest player in the 2008 Los Angeles Dodgers spring training camp. In the first game of spring training, Paul drew attention with a good running catch in the outfield and with a sacrifice bunt. He hit .316/.378/.463 for the Las Vegas 51s that year, with 28 doubles, 82 runs and 17 steals in 24 tries.

Paul split 2009 between the Albuquerque Isotopes (.328/.378/.500 in 31 G) and the major league Dodgers (3 for 14, BB, 2B, HR). In his big league debut, he pinch-hit for Randy Wolf with a 6-1 lead in the 6th against the Nationals. He ground into an inning-ending double play against Jordan Zimmermann; the Dodgers would wind up blowing it in a 11-9 loss. His first MLB hit came on May 10, a pinch-hit single off Jeremy Affeldt, but he was caught stealing. Five days later, he homered off Chris Volstad (again as a pinch-hitter) to bring the Dodgers within 3-2; they rallied to win it.

Xavier dazzled for Albuquerque (.325/.384/.579, 46 R, 38 RBI, 20 2B, 12 HR in 57 G) in 2010. He got into 44 games in the majors, filling in when Manny Ramirez was suspended for a positive banned substance test. He did not impress, at .231/.277/.314.

Paul made the Dodgers' opening roster in 2011 as part as a three-person combo playing left field. He was released a few weeks into the season after going 3 for 11, but was immediately picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates and went to play more games than any other year in his career thus far. He hit .254/.293/.349 with 16 steals in 22 tries as Pittsburgh's 4th outfielder; he played 121 games but had 251 plate appearances in his part-time role. He tied Andrew McCutchen for second on the club with 5 triples and tied Jose Tabata for second in steals.

After the season, he was caught in a bizarre identity theft scheme. A former minor league outfielder who had grown up near Xavier, Breland Brown, usurped Paul's identity in order to secure a contract to play winter ball in the Australian Baseball League, unbeknownst to Paul. Brown misrepresented himself as Paul's agent, securing a spot to play for the Sydney Blue Sox in exchange for placing the major leaguer on the Brisbane Bandits' roster. Of course, Xavier, unaware of what had been going on, failed to show up in Australia. That triggered alarms and made the scheme unravel. Brown was removed from Sydney's roster as a result and the matter was turned over to Major League Baseball's investigation division for further inquiry.

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