The 2017 season has largely been defined by what young players could do in the Bronx. The Yankees would not have made it one win away from the World Series had they relied on the low-ceiling veterans of yesteryear. Position players are abound now, with so much talent that there will likely be a squeeze in both infield and outfield. One place where youth was not as much of a factor was the rotation.
Even though the rotation is young, Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino were spring chickens. CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka, and Sonny Gray have a ton of years under their respective belts, and only Severino was the true breakout youngster of 2017.
Yankees prospect Chance Adams looks to be the next man up, as he’s currently the top-ranked pitching prospect in an already stacked farm system, according to MLB.com. First a successful reliever at Dallas Baptist, the player development staff did the impossible and converted Adams into a starter, and he has not disappointed. Here is what MLB.com in particular had to say:
“Adams' fastball was at 92-94 mph at Dallas Baptist and... [now] 95 following a mid-June promotion to Double-A. His heater doesn't feature a lot of life, but his combination of velocity and command makes it tough to hit. His slider has gotten harder and sharper in pro ball, arriving in the mid-80s and giving him a second well above-average pitch at times... Adams' fading changeup has also blossomed as he has used it more, and his curveball ranks as his worst pitch yet still grades as average. He locates his pitches well and loves to attack hitters.”
In his second season as a starter he was excellent, posting a 2.45 ERA over 27 starts with 8.1 K/9 and a 1.078 WHIP. 115 of those innings took place at Triple-A, to the tune of a 2.89 ERA, meaning that he’s a hair’s breadth from the big leagues.
It’s not like there aren’t concerns, of course. He’s still walking a moderate amount of batters (3.5 BB/9) and MLB.com even admits that his fastball might lack the necessary spin rate. That could be an issue with a juiced ball in Yankee Stadium. Developing one more pitch fully, in particular the curve and/or the change, will be crucial to his 2018 season.
There’s no question, though, as to whether Adams will get a chance next year. After posting those results he will have an outside chance at making the club in spring, albeit more likely after the Super Two deadline.
The expectations aren’t astronomical—Craig Goldstein of BP describes him as having third starter potential, but every single team needs a third starter. Not everyone can be a Severino, and that’s fine, but with other big arms likely out the door, having an Adams could be a big part of their starting equation in what is now a year of serious contention.