They say the value of something is determined by the supply and demand of that product and in baseball, the need for quality pitching is always high. It’s a position that every team will tell you they never have enough of. That is no different for the New York Yankees.
The Yankees have been finally reaping the benefits of their stacked farm system with the call-ups of hitters such as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Clint Frazier. They also saw a Cy Young worthy season out of pitcher Luis Severino and a solid rookie campaign out of lefty Jordan Montgomery. The pitchers in their farm system are now starting to move up the ranks, and that list is headlined by pitcher Chance Adams.
Adams was drafted by the Yankees in the 5th round of the 2015 MLB draft out of Dallas Baptist University and is from the Scottsdale, Arizona area. He has moved through the system at a fast pace and enjoyed a remarkable 2017 season.
He started the year for the Double-A Trenton Thunder and made four starts with a record of 4-0 to go with his 1.03 ERA in 35 innings. He was then promoted to the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on 11/11 and finished the year there. For the RailRiders Adams went 11-5 with a 2.89 ERA. He struck out 103 batters over 115.1 innings pitched.
Adams is expected to go into spring training for the Yankees next year with a chance to win a rotation spot with the major league club.
I recently spoke with Adams to check in on his offseason and how his preparation for spring training is going.
How has your offseason gone so far?
“It’s good. I’ve just been working out; I’m not throwing yet. That’s been it. It’s just been a lot of working out and relaxing and hanging out with my girlfriend.”
Are you back home now?
“No, I’m in Texas. That’s where my girlfriend lives, but I’ll be in Arizona around the 20th of November, and then I’ll be there until spring training.”
Going into this offseason are you focusing on any specific part of your game to improve on?
“I guess just maintaining and just working on being more effective. Just maintaining my body strength and my arm strength and my stamina. Just maintaining what I’ve had the past few seasons and I guess just trying to make it a little better. Maybe do more things like working out a little bit longer and a little bit harder just trying to improve just that little bit.”
When you talk about maintaining your arm strength and stamina and maintaining that, that is something that you’ve always had naturally when you started off as a reliever. Was there anything you’ve done to build up that arm strength to get it where it was right out the gate?
“Yeah I do a lot of band work and weighted ball stuff, but it really gets my arm loose and gets it going, and I’ve been doing the weighted balls, but I don’t think it has anything to do with my velocity anymore. My arm is used to it as a warm-up so by the time I get all of that stuff going in the offseason I try to ramp it up just a little bit. That way my arm gets strengthened in the offseason. Then during the season I just do the weighted balls for maintaining as just kind of as a warm-up.”
Going into this next season, you’re going to have a shot to make the rotation out of the spring. Do you have a different mindset going into that or are you preparing for that any differently?
“Nope. I’m just doing the same. I just kind of go in and do my best, and hopefully it works out, and I win a spot. I’m just going to try and go out and do the best I can, and hopefully, they see the work that I’ve been putting in, and they’ll have me on the opening day team.”
When you went into spring training last year, it was your first year in big league camp. What kind of mindset did you bring in to it last year?
“I guess you’re trying to work on things and get it back to where it was. You definitely need to throw to batters and get used to how it was, and the adrenaline that you get automatically and you kind of have to remember how to funnel it and use it to your advantage. Just be calm, and you can get too worked up, and you might be missing your spots more. Last spring training I think I was pretty excited because it was my first big league spring training and my dream as a kid was to play big league baseball so I was amped up and a little nervous and I walked a few more batters than I wanted. I saw how things were supposed to be done there and it was good to get that out of the way and get a little more comfortable. Also getting to learn your teammates and that was my first time getting to meet some of the big league guys, so I was getting comfortable with them and getting to know them. I think that really helps with getting comfortable on the mound and I think being comfortable is a big thing to being successful.”
You mentioned it was your first time meeting a lot of the big league guys, was there anyone who gave you some good advice for the season?
“I talked with a few of the guys. I talked with Chad Green for awhile, and he and I got along pretty well. I had a few long talks with Matt Holliday, and he’s a really good dude and gave me some really good info.”
Now that you have your first spring training out of the way do you think you will go into the next one more confident because you’ll be more familiar with it?
“I will have to get to get reacquainted with it, but yeah I’d say I’ll definitely be more comfortable than I was last year and hopefully things work out in spring training. We’ll see.”
You’ve moved through the system pretty fast thus far; you had your first season with Triple-A this past year. Do you feel like you improved a lot this year?
I felt some of my pitches improved. I felt my curveball was really good this year. My changeup was probably the biggest improvement but myself personally I just kind of maintained and stayed the same and didn’t do a whole lot of improving but I thought my curveball was really good and my changeup was. I was just kind of getting used to back to back full seasons. I think my body is getting used to it, but I definitely didn’t think I increased really. I thought I just stayed the same a little bit. Hopefully this next year, I’ve been working out a little bit harder, we’ll just see how it goes.
Were there any adjustments you had to make to get acclimated to Triple-A?
“It was different. Triple-A I thought was the biggest difference out of all of the levels I went up from. In my opinion, that might be different from other people, but I felt that was definitely the hardest level I was ever at. Most people say Double-A is the hardest, but I don’t know. You have a lot of veteran guys that have been up and down before. They know what to do and what to look for in a pitcher, and they had better at-bats. Not every single hitter but you know mostly the cores of the lineup, and those leadoff hitters. I would say Triple-A was definitely the hardest. I felt I wasn’t as effective and my Velo was down a little bit, and I was getting used to the back to back years. I think my arm should be used to it.”
You started the year in Trenton and only made four starts there. Did you expect to go up to Scranton so soon?
“Yeah, they kind of told me. I didn’t want to say anything, but they said to go down there and get comfortable and then we’ll go from there. We had a lot of pitchers coming in and a lot of people who deserved to be where they were and have been there longer than me and did better than me in spring training and whatnot. They earned their spot, and I had to earn mine, and that’s when they felt that I earned my spot.”
Going into the season what were your personal goals? What did you want to accomplish going into 2017?
“I usually have the same goal every year which is to have the most strikeouts in the league, but that didn’t really pan out this year. It will be the same going into next year. That’s about it, just have the most strikeouts and a little runs and keep my team in the race for winning the game. That way we can go into the playoffs and win the world series or whatever level I’m at, and that’s just my goal and our goal as a team is to win the world series and personal goals are set aside. If it happens, it happens, but my goal is to go out there and give my team a chance and have a lot of strikeouts doing it.”
When you were in high school, you started as a third baseman and switched to a pitcher full time. What went into that decision?
“When you’re young, and you’re playing, and you’re a pretty good player you usually play all of the positions, and they would usually bring me in to close the games out and stuff like that. In high school, I played third base then come in to close things out. Then I got to junior college, and it was kind of hard to devote time to hitting and fielding and then pitching drills and all of that. It was hard to devote all of my time because I would be taking infield but while I’m taking infield the pitchers were doing some type of drill that I’m missing out on, and I’m going to have either stay late or skip and do something else.
At that level, you have to start deciding. They brought me in as a dual probably waiting for my to make my decision on one or maybe they wanted me for both. I don’t really know. But I kind of just thought about which one I was best at and to me I thought that was pitching. I thought I was better at pitching than I was at hitting and playing the field at that stage. That’s all that kind of went into it. I thought, well I throw the ball pretty hard, and I usually get a lot of outs.
My thought was they could always use more pitchers because someone is always going to get hurt and someone is always going to want someone to step up. They same can be said for fielding but look at Jeter, he was a shortstop for over 16 years, and no one was taking that spot at all. The pitching has gone up and down on a bunch of teams, not just the Yankees so I thought that was my best shot.”
You started off after high school at a community college when you can think back to that time could you imagine you’d be where you are now?
“Imagine, yeah, but you don’t want to sound cocky but you can always tell your skill level compared to other people and I was always pretty good. Again, not trying to sound cocky, just trying to tell a story but I just kind of felt I definitely could play big league baseball if I put my work ethic in and kicked everything in gear and just try to do my very best and that’s just what I try to do. Talent can only get you so far until you have to start working more and that’s when the greats become the greats. I just tried to start putting a lot of work in, and I felt like that really helped me achieve my dream or get closer to it.”
After that, you transferred to Dallas Baptist. They have a really good program so did you feel like that move really helped your game?
“That was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. It wasn’t only baseball-wise but as a person. I felt it made me a better personal as well with baseball. Wes Johnson and Dan Heefner and Dan Fitzgerald, they all helped me tremendously and Coach Perry, I don’t know if he’s there anymore, but he was always fun too. The whole coaching staff, it’s weird there, it was kind of like you were a family. I still get that feeling, and I still talk to all of the guys that were there and even the coaches call me here and now and congratulate me on stuff I’ve done or to see when I’m coming down to visit. I should be headed down pretty soon just to say hi. Good coaching, great group of people, definitely a good school to go to.”