The baseball season has already blown past the quarter-pole and entered June today. The 2017 season has seen its share of injuries, underperformers (Manny Machado, Edwin Encarnacion) and overachievers (Corey Dickerson). And, teams like the Yankees that have unexpectedly surged due in no small part to their youngsters. Prospects like Chance Adams, Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier and others could join current Yankees Aaron Judge and Luis Severino this Summer.
The Best Chance is Adams
At the moment, Adams has the best chance of all the prospects in waiting. Adams started for the Scranton RailRiders on Wednesday and dominated the Columbus Clippers over six innings. The 22-year old allowed one hit, walked two, and struck out a career-high 12 batters. 63 of his 93 pitches were thrown for strikes and he struck out the first five batters of the game.
“My goal coming in here was to throw a complete game regardless,” Adams said. “I was trying to keep my pitch counts down, but with a lot of strikeouts your pitches go up. I really did want to go seven, but I didn’t really have a mindset. I just came in here like, ‘All right, locate your pitches and have a quality start.”
“Pitch count-wise, if I finished this game, I’d have finished around 106 pitches and my next start I’d only go 80 or something, so they just limited me for next start, but I definitely wanted to go back out there,” Adams said.
“I was just commanding my pitches really well, me and [catcher Castillo] had a good feel together,” Adams said. “[Our] defense made some awesome plays, including a sick double play and a ball hit to right in the second inning that Dustin [Fowler] made a nice play on. If those plays don’t get made, it could be a different outcome.”
Since his promotion from Double-A Trenton, Adams has made four starts at Triple-A and it hasn’t phased him one bit. In 23 innings pitched, Adams has struck out 27 hitters and allowed just 11 hits and four runs (1.57 ERA). His seven walks are a higher number than you would like to see, but opponents are hitting a meager .147 against him. A fifth-round draft pick in 2015, Adams earned the promotion after putting up a 4-0, 1.03 record in six starts for Trenton.
“He could be the starter they’re looking for,” said one opposing team scout who covers the Yankees’ organization and was at Wednesday’s outing. “Power breaking stuff and a plus-fastball.”
In Wednesday’s victory, Adams’ fastball ranged from 93 – 96 mph and his put-away slider measured between 84 – 88 mph.
“Every pitching prospect, even the top guys, have a bad one, where they just don’t have anything,” said another opposing team scout who has seen a lot of Adams. “Haven’t seen one yet.”
If Jordan Montgomery continues to struggle at the back end of the rotation, Adams has an excellent shot at taking his spot. Then again, the Yankees could go with Chad Green to replace Montgomery, rather than Adams. Another possible scenario, of course, would be an opening in the rotation created by an injury. There’s also the possibility that the Yankees could add Adams to the pen, a role he held while in college.
Though he’s flown under the radar, this isn’t the first good year in the minor leagues for Adams. He dominated hitters for Tampa in the Florida State League and Trenton in the Eastern League. The FSL hitters, in particular, were no match for the Dallas Baptist University product. He averaged 11.4 K/9 IP and approached a 5:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Listen here to hear Chance Adams on Wednesday night’s Bronx Pinstripes Show!
Last Season, Adams had a similarly seamless transition after his promotion to Double-A. In 69.2 innings pitched, Adams allowed just 35 hits…which translates to a remarkable 4.5 hits per nine innings. He also averaged better than 9 K/9 IP.
There is one major impediment to Adams’ chances. The organization shut him down last August when he reached his innings limit of 127.1 innings pitched. It was a 262 percent increase from the 35.1 innings Adams threw in 2015. So far, Adams has tossed 69.2 innings between Trenton and Scranton. This year’s innings limit has not been revealed to the public.
So, will Adams contribute to the Yankees down the stretch? There’s a pretty good chance it will happen.