A series of injuries and roster shuffles last summer prompted the Baltimore Orioles to move B.J. Littleton, an outfielder who had never played above the Class A level, one stop short of the majors, to Class AAA Ottawa.
Now, with renewed confidence, Littleton is repaying the organization with by far his best season. A career .251 hitter, he is hitting .314 through 55 games with the advanced Class A Frederick Keys, stealing a team-high 12 bases and scoring 33 runs.
"Being up there just gave me the confidence to play better down here," said Littleton, who batted .252 at Ottawa, hitting safely in 23 of 29 games. "Now I know that I can do it and that I shouldn't doubt myself. Sometimes, I had done that."
The former seventh-round pick out of Lamar University got his chance to shine after coming off the disabled list last in May. Ottawa outfielder Darnell McDonald suffered a shoulder injury, and the organization called upon Littleton to fill a void for what was expected to be about a week.
Upon his arrival in Ottawa, however, outfielder Luis Matos was unexpectedly promoted to Baltimore, giving Littleton an everyday spot in the outfield.
"I got to play every day, and I started to hit the ball really well," said Littleton. "It just gave me a new goal to strive for. It was good to play with all those guys, because they have so much more experience than I did. I think they taught me a lot."
These days, Littleton, 24, is showing just how much he learned. After hitting .171 in his last significant stint with the Keys in 2002, Littleton now ranks eighth in the Carolina League in batting.
"I think it's just having more confidence at the plate every time I go up there," he said. "I think as I've been playing more, I've been getting more confident and learning my swing better. Hopefully, if I keep hitting well I'll just keep getting moved up the ladder."