The New York Yankees selected Chance Adams in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB draft. His remarkable transformation from reliever to starter in less that a calendar year has made it time to take notice of the Yankees 21-year-old T-Yanks ace.
The Yankees took Adams 153rd overall last June, after a solid season as part of a flame-throwing Dallas Baptist pitching staff that would see four of its pitchers go by the time the fifth round had ended. Adams — then armed with a two-pitch arsenal — closed out games for the Patriots, posting a 7-1 record over 23 appearances while locking up two saves, behind a 1.98 ERA and a phenomenal 83-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in just 59 innings.
The 6-foot, 215 pound right-hander wasted no time acclimating himself to the pros. He made such a strong impression in four games out of the bullpen at Rookie-level Staten Island that he was quickly promoted to Charleston in the South Atlantic League before climbing all the way to High-A after another five strong relief appearances for the Riverdogs.
All in all, over 14 appearances in his professional debut, Adams went 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA in 35.1 combined innings of relief, posting yet another fantastic strikeout-to-walk ratio at 45:9. He did struggle against lefties once reaching Tampa in the Florida State League, as they hit .417 against him, but in hindsight this appears to be an anomaly and an isolated instance. His splits were nearly identical in Staten Island (.167 lefties/ .136 righties) and although they were further apart in Charleston, a .217 batting average against for lefties isn’t red flag material.
The Yankees liked what they saw, especially in Adams’ increased velocity and impeccable command, and decided to convert him to a starter for 2016.
Adams, who had been a two-pitch weapon for much of his DBU career, did have an under-developed changeup at his disposal, but would have to learn a fourth pitch to succeed. Thus far, the results have been sensational.
Adams currently sits at 5-0 in 12 starts for Tampa. He has a 2.65 ERA, continuing to dominate the strike zone and keeping the free passes to a minimum, punching out 73 (11.39 per nine) and walking just 15 (2.34 per nine) over 57.2 innings. His batting average against splits again are pretty equal, with lefties batting .222 and righties tagging him at just a .182 lick. Simply put, Adams has been dominating.
If you take away his first three starts, which were his first three starts competitively since before he transferred to DBU in 2015, Adams has become even more untouchable. Over his past seven starts he has allowed just four total runs, sandwiching three scoreless outings around four one-run outings. He has struck out 48 batters while walking just seven. His last appearance was five innings of no-hit baseball. Dominating is an understatement.
Adams has developed his arsenal. His fastball — which topped out in the mid-90s when he was drafted — now sits regularly in the mid-90s and has topped out at 99. Not only does he have solid command of his power pitch, it has a sink to it that makes it even harder to hit. His breaking ball — which was above-average coming out of DBU — has completely shifted from a cutter to a swing-and-miss slider, while his changeup is now considered a successful out pitch, although it still is improving. His curveball is not where it needs to be, but as his newest pitch, it is by no means bad.
Adams has no problem repeating his delivery, nor keeping his pitches in the zone. Over this seven-start run, he has landed 66 percent of his pitches for strikes, watching his WHIP drop from 1.25 to 0.97 as he has limited baserunners by sitting them down as opposed to letting them on base. His delivery is pretty fluid, although it does seem (and this is purely based on video, without having seen him live to date) that he throws hard, using a lot of effort in his arm. With little injury history, however, this may simply be something to which Adams has become accustom.
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