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Rising: David Adams

Posted by EJ Fagan at 11:00 am Add comments
May 182010

David Adams has probably been the most exciting rising prospect in the Yankee system this season. His statistics:

Year Age Tm Lg Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2008 21 Staten Island NYPL A- 67 297 257 45 66 19 2 4 31 32 57 .257 .350 .393 .743
2009 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A+ 132 569 490 69 140 40 8 7 75 61 88 .286 .373 .443 .816
2009 22 Charleston SALL A 67 304 259 32 75 23 2 0 34 35 49 .290 .385 .394 .779
2009 22 Tampa FLOR A+ 65 265 231 37 65 17 6 7 41 26 39 .281 .360 .498 .858
2010 23 Trenton EL AA 34 153 139 27 44 15 3 3 27 12 29 .317 .379 .532 .911
3 Seasons 233 1019 886 141 250 74 13 14 133 105 174 .282 .367 .442 .810

There is little not to be impressed about his early-season batting in Trenton. Adams has brought his power surge forward from the second half of 2009 up to Double-A. He’s belting doubles at an absurd rate (on track for close to 70 over a full season) despite the poor early season hitting environment in Trenton. His BB% is down, but that’s fairly common among players as hot as Adams is right now. Adams has shown very strong BB rates in the low minors, and he should probably be able to replicate that as his career progresses. Slightly more alarming is a 5% increase in his K%, but that’s nitpicking this early in the season.

Adams has put himself on the prospect map. He has risen rapidly through  the system, and improved his play consistently. While David Adams was a 3rd round pick, he could very well have gone much higher after a really stellar sophomore season at UVA, so don’t discount his talent.

His next step will be a promotion to Triple-A, which will probably come around late-June or early-July. Unlike Austin Romine, Adams probably has no position conflicts to worry about in Scranton. Competing 2nd basemen include Kevin Russo, who is currently in New York, and would probably primarily be moved to a utility role if push comes to shove, Reegie Corona, who has utterly failed to hit at Triple-A yet again, and Matthew Cusick, who is minor league filler. The Yankees won’t prioritize these guys over Adams.

However, the positional picture is less clear in the majors. Barring a major catastrophe, Robinson Cano has the 2nd base position locked up in New York for the foreseeable future. The only other position that Adams has experience in is 3rd base, which is also taken. The Yankees face a dilemma here. Adams is by far most valuable at the 2nd base position, and has a very solid chance of being an above average or better MLB starting player. The Yankees could move him to left field, where his bat would be average at best, or they could prepare him for a utility role. Adams is poorly suited for the infield utility bench spot due to a lack of any history playing short stop.

The Yankees have two other options for David Adams: use him as trade bait, or let him languish at Triple-A long term as an emergency option a la Juan Miranda. Which outcome happens depends on a few factors. If Adams finishes the season hitting .317/.379/.532, he’ll quickly be considered one of the top-100 prospects in baseball, and should be able to garner real trade interest. If he finishes the season in Double-A, replicating his .286/.373/.443 line from 2009, he probably won’t. Adams deserves more than a long-term stay in Triple-A hell, but he’ll have to hit his way out the minors far more than your average prospect.

13 Responses to “Rising: David Adams”

  1. Radical thought: Seeing as how Robinson Cano has shown himself to be a below-average defender over the course of his career by most statistical measures, might a move to the corner outfield be an option as he enters his 30′s?

    With Nick Swisher eligible for free agency after the 2011 season (the Yanks hold a $10.25M option, with a $1M buyout), the option of moving a 29-year-old Cano to the outfield in favor of handing David Adams the second-basemen gig could present itself.

    Obviously, a lot can happen between now and November 2011 (read: the continued development of Adams; Cano’s defense at second base as he ages; the performances of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher), but I do wonder if this is a worthy possibility to look into.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    EJ Fagan Reply:

    I’m generally in favor of radical solutions like the one you proposed, but unfortunately it will never really be considered. But its a nice thought.

    However, the Yankees really shouldn’t perform such a move unless they really, really, want both Robinson Cano and David Adams in the same lineup. You’d be essentially trading slightly better defense at 2nd base for David Adam’s bat vs. the replacement left fielder. I feel like they can find a better bat at left field long term than Adam’s.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    By +/-, Cano has been fine. Cerainly not a guy that you move off the position.  (Quote)

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    EJ Fagan Reply:

    Hey, Casey Stengel would consider it :)   (Quote)

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    Jamal G. Reply:

    He hasn’t been playing defense at a level in which you’re comfortable forecasting him to be adequate into his 30′s. A half-win below average is fine, but doing that as a second basemen in your early 20′s does not exactly bode well for the future.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    I like to look at the multi-year samples. After this season, it is likely that he will have had 3 of his last 4 years be positive, plus/minus-wise. Unless you weigh his poor 2008 highly, I think it is fair to say the stats show him as being at least average. Throw in your own observations, and mine say that he is pretty good out there, and I really dont see how you would justify moving one of the best bats at the position to the OF.  (Quote)

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    Jamal G. Reply:

    I believe it was Keith Law who stated that a player’s defensive prime is usually over by the time he enters his late 20′s, and I think it’s reasonable enough to question whether the decline is steeper for up-the-middle-players.

    The Yankees should not be looking at this idea as a primary option, but something to consider if David Adams develops into an above-average hitter and defender (for argument’s sake, let’s say he becomes a +5 hitter and a +5 defender to make a ~3-win second basemen) and Robinson Cano is in the midst of a decline phase with regards to his defense by the end of 2011.

    This is not something that I am looking forward to happening, necessarily, but something that should be on the table if the opportunity presents itself.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    EJ Fagan Reply:

    I’m actually pretty well persuaded by this. Its too bad that 3rd base is locked up forever, because Robinson Cano would make a damn good third baseman.

    Cano is 27, so this isn’t really in the works, but not everyone is Derek Jeter and stays a middle infielder their whole career. The timing doesn’t really work out for David Adams, but the point is definitely interesting thought.  (Quote)

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  2. Relatively unrelated: that’s a bit of a weird arm action Kelly has, almost reminds me of Hughes. He short-arms it.  (Quote)

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    EJ Fagan Reply:

    Now that you mention it, I definitely see that. Huh.  (Quote)

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  3. I didn’t realize his ceiling was that high. I don’t know that I had a good reason for it but I’d been assuming that his upside projection was similar to Cervilli’s – a starter on a weak team or a backup on a good team. Not that this has anything to do with it but his stance/crouch actually looks a bit like Cervilli’s.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    EJ Fagan Reply:

    I actually strongly believe that Adams could be a starter (albiet an 8th or 9th hitter) on a WS-caliber team. Cervelli has a tragic flaw – a lack of power – that holds his ceiling back. Adams doesn’t have a tragic flaw that’ll keep him on the bench. Besides being blocked by Robinson Cano.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  4. FYI – Correction! David Adams played shortstop his entire career up until the University of Virginia.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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