Yankees in utero Torres, Frazier and Adams pushing through

Chance Adams Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Chance Adams Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Yankees: Take a Me on Chance

Every team has perplexing questions. Issues that should be easy to answer but seem to stump the club, and us. For the Yankees in 2017, it might be, what does it take for Chance Adams to get a promotion to Triple-A?

Adams split his 2016 time between Single and Double-A. At High-A Tampa, Chance put up a 2.65 ERA, gave up 17 fewer hits than innings pitched (41/58), and ended with a WHIP of 0.971. That earned him a shot to pitch in New Jersey, albeit against tougher competition; he responded by improving all his numbers.

Chance made 12 starts for the Thunder. He lowered his ERA to 2.07, his WHIP to 0.847, while giving up only half as many hits as innings pitched (35/70). That alone should have meant Adams would be throwing for the RailRiders when 2017 started.

Instead, the Yankees and most of baseball are having a hard time believing Adams is a future starter in the show. So he was returned to Trenton to start the season and has picked up where he left off. His ERA in his first six starts is 1.03. But that has not been enough to deserve a promotion to Scranton.

To be fair, his walks and WHIP are both up. The fifteen free passes he has issued have driven his WHIP aaaaaaaaalll the way yp to 1.086. But maybe that is not all that impressive in the Eastern League; a little context is key. We might find those numbers quite mediocre.

Chance Adams Defines Conquering a Level

Turns out not to be the case. No, Chance has the lowest ERA by 30 points among all starters in the league; his WHIP is eighth. And he has given up fewer hits in his 35 innings pitched—23—than anyone with at least 28 innings. Adams is fourth in strikeouts and has given up only four earned runs. Again that is fewer than anyone who has pitched at least 19 innings.

More from Yanks Go Yard

So it is reasonable to see Adams as the best pitcher in Double-A. Not wise for the Yankees, but certainly for the rest of us. And he has proven that his success is no fluke by both finishing the season at Trenton and starting it there. His numbers just keep getting better. Now the question is, would he be an upgrade at Scranton, or is he being blocked by better men.

The short answer to the second part is, no.

Of the five RailRiders’ starters, only Luis Cessa and Daniel Camarena have ERA’s below 3.70 (1.84 and 1.85, respectively). But Cessa carries a WHIP of 1.40 and has surrendered as many hits as innings pitched: 29. Camarena looks solid, with a WHIP of 0.90 and fewer hits than innings pitched—17 to 24. That still leaves four underwhelming pitchers whom Adams could replace.

And that should all add up to a promotion for Chance. The Yankees, however, are being very circumspect. They took a flier on him in the fifth round based on good word of mouth. He pitched mostly out of the bullpen at his small college, although he did start for the last few games of his sophomore season (2014). Be he is not physically imposing and had a poor showing in spring training, ending with a WHIP of 2.25.

So whereas Mr. Kaprielian was on the fast track, it seems Mr. Adams got on the slow train. Chance is just going to have to keep proving it and proving it and proving it some more. But if he does keep pitching like he has, he will demand a promotion to Scranton and, soon after, Manhattan.

Bronx Bound

All of this means that any Yankees player in the infield, outfield or bullpen who goes into a protracted slump might be the catalyst for a prospect’s promotion. And once he gets to the Bronx, he will get an equal opportunity to earn playing time. That is good news for Yankees fans but maybe not for current Yankees players.

We will continue to track the progress of these and all the other pre-baby, in utero Yankees. That should make for exciting reads. Unless you are Jacoby or Brett or Chase, or even CC. You might not want to read these pieces. For those players, I suggest reading the Post as they barely know the Yankees play baseball in this town.

Plus, the displaced players might find a line on a job opening at Citi Field. And those boys don’t seem to mind a few errors here and there. Hey, is it too late to trade them Cito Culver?