Yankees Chance Adams a Dark Horse to Win Rotation Job Next Spring


With the New York Yankees thin on starting pitching and trying to get younger, could Chance Adams force his way into the rotation next spring?

In the span of one season, New York Yankees minor league pitcher Chance Adams has turned himself from one of the multitude of interesting relief arms in the farm system to perhaps the organization’s most exciting starting pitching prospect.

The team’s fifth round selection in the 2015 draft was a dominant reliever as a junior at Dallas Baptist University and continued that success out of the pen in his first year in the Yankees organization, pitching to a 1.78 ERA and striking out 11.5 per nine across three levels of A-Ball last year.

New York decided to see how Adams’s nasty stuff translated to the rotation in his second season as a professional, and the results were astounding. The 22-year-old right-hander was arguably the most successful minor league pitcher at any level this year.

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Baseball America named him to their annual Minor League All-Star Team this year, noting that he held opposing batters to a .169 average, which was not only the lowest of any minor league pitcher, but the second lowest of any MiLB pitcher since the 1993 season.

In 25 appearances (24 GS) between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, Chance Adams compiled a 2.33 ERA, 0.903 WHIP, and 10.2 K/9 across 127.1 IP. He showed no signs of slowing down by the end of the season despite a substantial increase in his workload.

Presumably Adams is scheduled to increase his innings total by another 40 IP or so in 2017, which would make him a viable full-season MLB starter if the team felt he was ready. While he has yet to pitch above Double-A, it’s hard to make a case that Adams isn’t ready for the big show.

With a blazing fastball that touches 98, a plus slider, and a solid-average changeup, Adams has the arsenal of a front-of-the-rotation major league starter right now. He throws strikes and has zero concerns about his make-up.

The biggest red flag with Adams is his size. Listed at 6’0 and 215, he’s not exactly tiny, but he’s not considered a workhorse either. Some scouts have expressed concerns about his ability to hold up as a starter in the long haul. To me, that is an argument not to waste the innings he does have in him down in the minors.

The Yankees do currently have two rotation spots more or less open, with guys like Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green expected to compete. Adams would have to show up and absolutely blow away Grapefruit League hitters to get any consideration, but given what we saw last year from Adams that doesn’t seem completely impossible.

At the very least, Adams seems like a lock to get his first invite to big league spring training in February, giving Yankees fans a look at what he can do against more advanced competition.

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Even if he begins the year in Triple-A, Adams has probably put himself in position to crack the rotation at some point in 2017. The Yankees have shown that big league jobs can be won if you perform well enough. All Adams has to do is keep it up.