Chance Adams rocketed up prospect lists after he dominated Double-A in 2016 to the tune of an 8-1 record and a 2.07 ERA. But even though the numbers still looked good on paper, Adams came back to earth a bit performance wise. Adams earned a non-roster invite to spring training this year, but struggled to an 11.57 ERA in three games (4.2 innings). Still, it provided him with valuable experience.
Weight: 210 pounds
Acquired: Picked by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Dallas Baptist University.
Adams made a quick stop to Double-A to begin the season (4-0, 1.03 ERA in 35 innings), then spent the rest of the year with the RailRiders. He went 11-5 in SWB and had a 2.89 ERA in 115.1 innings. He allowed just 81 hits, walked 43 and struck out 103. Adams made one of the best starts by any RailRiders pitcher May 31 against Columbus, when he struck out 12, walked two and gave up just one hit in six scoreless innings. But his pre- and post-all star break splits show he faded a bit down the stretch. He allowed 13 runs over his final four starts (22 innings) and allowed five runs in nine postseason innings.
This is something a little bit different than what’s been done with this list. Below, Donnie Collins and I discuss why Adams comes in at No. 10, what we like about him and what might need some work.
CF: We’re into the top 10. And we’re going with Chance Adams here. He might’ve come back to earth a little bit last year, though he did still win games (15) and have pretty good numbers overall.
DC: We saw him a lot last year and frankly, the stuff wasn’t what the scouting reports and the media accounts said it was most of that time.
CF: No, it wasn’t. And I think one of the things we learned was there’s control on paper, and then there’s actual control. I think that was the biggest thing that stood out to us.
DC: He had that one outing very early on, I think it was May 31, in one of those school-day games where he was absolutely lights out. He was 93-95 and his changeup was really good and his curve and change were really good. And I thought, he’ll be here for about a week. And then you never saw anything close to that kind of dominance again, and the stuff was never that good again. I’m not sure how to process that first outing anymore really. And by first outing, I mean first one I saw. I don’t think it was his first with the team.
CF: Yeah, he allowed one hit, walked two and struck out 12 in six innings that day. And I think you can’t just throw it out as an outlier, because we’ve had scouts tell us that was real. It’s a matter of how do the Yankees get that version of Chance — or something close — on the mound every fifth day.
DC: It’s the age-old question in scouting and player evaluation, though: What’s real? Is it real if you only see it once? Because I think if I didn’t see that outing, I might not have ranked Adams in the top 15 at all. And if I only saw that outing, I might’ve ranked him number one. As I sit here, and I have had scouts ask me what I’ve seen on a more consistent basis than they get to see it, I’d say he’s a right-hander who sits 90-92 with offspeed stuff I know the Yankees want him to develop more. There are days I like his slider and days I don’t. There are days his change is really good, and there are days it isn’t. You never know what kind of outing you’re going to get from him, outside of the fact that he never gives in on a hitter. He pitches his game.
CF: I have to wonder if fatigue played a role in his performance last year. Before the all-star break, he had a 2.50 ERA with SWB and after, it was 3.28, which is fine, but there’s a pretty big difference. He also struck out 64 in 57.2 innings before the break and only 39 in 57.2 after it. Gave up 33 hits before it, 48 after it. Remember, this is a guy who was a reliever in college in 2014 and is coming off a 2017 season where he threw 150 innings. Chance isn’t one to offer excuses, but I’ve got to wonder if fatigue came into play. He wasn’t the same pitcher at the end of the season that he was at the beginning.
DC: In fairness, yeah…it was difficult to remember how good he was in May when you’re looking at a guy in August whose stuff looked so average. But a lot of people are stunned his stuff hasn’t looked better this spring. Well, it looks a lot like it did in August. I don’t have much insight on the fatigue theory. But it makes some sense. I also think there might be a mechanical issue. He didn’t look as free and easy with his delivery as he did early on. Just a tough guy to figure, for me. But that first outing I saw…I’m not sure there were many baseball teams on the planet that were beating Chance Adams that morning. So he remains very intriguing.
CF: Yeah, he’s definitely a max effort delivery guy, which probably stems from his reliever days.
DC: And his size. They list him at 6-1. I’m not sure he’s exactly 6-1. And he’s a stockier guy. Those guys aren’t necessarily built like pitchers. That doesn’t mean they can’t pitch, of course. He just is going to be a lot more compact and short with his delivery and arm action. … The strange thing for me is I can’t picture him in the pen, just because of his plan of attack. I do think he’s a starter.
CF: I think I’m with you there. Though I wonder what he’d be able to do velocity wise over a one or two inning stint. I don’t think there’s any need to hit the panic button yet, but I think there’s still work to be done.
DC: There were suggestions by some that Adams was a big-league ready option last year. That wasn’t the case. But he’s still on the very young side. I still think he’s very intriguing. But to me, he’s a 4-5 starter, not someone who is going to front a rotation, unless the coaching staff figures something out to get that velocity back.
The Top 15
15: Ben Heller
14: Jonathan Loaisiga
13: Dillon Tate
12: Domingo Acevedo
11: Thairo Estrada
10: Chance Adams
3: March 30
2: March 31
1: April 1
Associated Press and Times-Tribune photos