For some reason, there seems to be a split among the rank-and-file about who right-hander Chance Adams is, and whether or not he could eventually fill a spot in the Yankees rotation.
The division is as sharp as what we see today between Republicans and Democrats. In this case, it’s between those who have seen Adams pitch and those who have not. We have and are among the believers.
Adams, 22 (he won’t turn 23 until Aug. 10), was simply the best pitcher in the Double-A Eastern League in 2016, He put together, between Class-A Advanced Tampa and Trenton a 13-1, 2.33 mark with a strikeout/walk ratio of 144-39 in 127.1 innings. His WHIP was an absurd 0.903.
To say he dominated in 25 appearances (24 starts) would seriously be not giving his performance enough credit. If he continues at the same level at Triple-A Scranton the first half of 2017, those based at 161st and River will be calling. The only thing that stopped him last season was an innings limit.
“Everything about him this season is what you are looking for in a young starter,” said a scout from a National League East team. “He places all his pitches well, fools hitters and is determined. I like him.”
So what propelled this 6-foot, 215-pound native of Scottsdale, Ariz., who was drafted by the Yankees out of Dallas Baptist University in the fifth round in 2015? Yes, he spent all of 2015 as a reliever passing through Staten Island, Charleston and Tampa with a fastball that hit 99, thus the innings limit last season.
“It would have been great if we had him for the playoffs,” said Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell, who led his team to the Eastern League Championship Series, where it fell to the Akron Rubber Ducks, Cleveland’s talented Double-A club. “He was excellent for us, often as a stopper.
“He kept getting better, but we have to protect young arms.”
Adams enters 2017 with a biting fastball that sits at 94-95 and has touched 96-97, a changeup that improved so much between 2015 and 2016 that it prompted the Yankees to make him a starter and a fair cutter that morphed into a decent curve. His velocity has increased from his college days.
The Yankees evaluated a dozen young pitchers in Spring Training last year and switched roles of several. So far, Adams’ move to the rotation has proven to be the right one so far.
“I was excited they gave me a chance to start,” said Adams. “I have I have the approach that is needed to win as a starter.”
He sets a high bar for himself.
“I have my fielders behind me, but a lot of the game depends on how I pitch,” Adams said. ”I go out there with same approach every game and don’t worry what stuff I have on a given day. I pitch when I’m supposed to pitch and try to get to challenge the hitters and get the best of them.”
His exhibited excellent control last season, allowing just nine homers in those 127.1 innings.
Perhaps, since he emerged as a major prospect just last season, we understand how some may not be all that familiar with him. But, as they say, especially with Adams, seeing is believing.