For Chance Adams it does not matter where he is pitching. The concept for him is the same if he is in Trenton, Scranton, or maybe someday in The Bronx. His job is to get opposing hitters out and so far, during his brief career, the Scottsdale native has done just that.
The New York Yankees drafted Adams in the fifth round of the 2015 draft out of Dallas Baptist University and he has catapulted through their system at a steady pace.
“I was with my agent. We were in his living room sitting and waiting and then the Yankees called,” Adams said. “It was pretty exciting to know I was going in the fifth round and especially to the New York Yankees. It was a pretty cool day.”
Adams is only entering his third season in professional baseball and has pitched to a lifetime 21-2 record, a 1.95 ERA over 202 and 2/3 innings, and has 227 strikeouts. Batters have hit just .173 against him over that time.
Those numbers have gained Adams great recognition in prospect rankings. He is currently ranked the 100th best prospect according to MLB.com. That ranks him seventh among his Yankee minor league piers.
Adams four-pitch mix of fastballs, sliders, curve balls, and change-ups has gotten him off to a stellar start in 2017. During his six starts at Double-A Trenton he went 4-0 with a minuscule 1.03 ERA. He struck out 32 batters in his 35 innings pitched, while also walking 15.
“I know I have had high walks but sometimes they are just situational walks where the next guy on deck is a righty and I will pitch around the zone to a lefty to get to the righty,” Adams said.
Adams made his first start at the Triple-A level for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on May 14, going five innings and allowing just two hits, while striking out six.
Though Adams has only been with the RailRiders for a week he has fit in well, and is comfortable with his new teammates because he had played with some of them before this season.
“I knew most of the guys up here so it was honestly just like another start. I felt really comfortable,” Adams said. “I had Kyle Higashioka behind the dish and I am very comfortable throwing to Kyle Higashioka. I have had Cito Culver, Tyler Wade, and Dustin Fowler behind me before. To me it was like pitching another game.”
RailRiders’ manager Al Pedrique prides himself in having a fun clubhouse where his players can come to the park early and hangout with their teammates. Adams has fit right into that mix.
“He has only been here three or four days but you can tell by watching him go about his business and talking to his teammates last night in the dugout that he was having a lot of fun with the guys,” Pedrique said.
While Adams has worked his way through the system quickly, there are still a few things that the coaching staff would like him to work on.
“He competes his butt off. He has good stuff,” said RailRiders’ pitching coach Tommy Phelps. “He has a quick athletic type delivery and he repeats it pretty well as long as he stays behind the ball and through it.”
Adams is aware that he still has a lot to work on before getting the call to the next level. For him, it starts with the location of his off-speed arsenal — which he pitches to off of his fastball.
“The change-up is the big one,” Adams said. “Change-ups for strikes and also out of the zone. Fastballs in, sliders back foot, curveball control. A little bit of everything.
“I am just trying to fine tune things, but definitely successful change-ups and curveballs.”
The end goal for all minor league baseball players is the major leagues. Some are afforded the opportunity faster than others and while Adams strives to pitch in New York, he understands that those decisions are out of his hands.
“It’s definitely not my call,” Adams said with a laugh. “I want to pitch there (New York) but they will call me up when they feel time is ready, when they think I have fine-tuned a lot of my pitches. Then they will call me up and I will go out and try to help the team win.”
For now Adams will pitch at Triple-A, but if he continues his dominance over minor league hitters, that call may come sooner than later.