Rays 2016 Top 50 Prospects: Number 4, Willy Adames


Rays Top 50 Prospects includes a tremendous number of high-quality prospects. We at RCG are bringing you an in-depth look at those we consider to be the Top 50

While gathering as much information as possible from various sources, we’re going to put it all together for your enjoyment and raise the bar on what you expect from a prospect knowledgable site. Stay tuned, check-in often, and please let us know how we’re doing.

Being such a lengthy process, some encouragement will go a very long way. We hope you’ll enjoy reading this series as much as we enjoy putting it together. If anything, all of us will know that much more about the quality of the Rays system.

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The rankings will be based on all aspects of each prospect, but will focus first on how likely the player is to make an impact in MLB, and ceiling next.

Mikie Mahtook


Enny Romero

have been graduated to the majors and will not be included in these rankings.

Once completed, the Top 50 will be updated mid-season with an explanation to why they’re moving up or down, and the entire process will be repeated each season.

The next player to be examined in detail is …

#4: Willy Rafael Adames, SS, 20 years old

  • Bats: Right  Ht/Wt:  6’1″ / 180 lbs
  • Signed: as an international free agent by the Detroit Tigers for $420,000 in 2012
  • Acquired: by the Rays, along with Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin, in return for David Price
  • 2015 Affiliate: Charlotte, HiA
  • Anticipated MLB Arrival: 2017+

Adames’ 2015 Stats

Adames’ 2015 Fielding Stats

Adames’ 2015 Splits

Player Facts

Best Tools & Abilities

  • Powerful, quick, and accurate arm
  • Defensive ability
  • Projects Average to Above-Average Power/Speed as a SS
  • Grades: Hit 20/50+, Raw Power 45/50, Speed 50/50, Field 50/55, Throws 60/60


Note how quiet – and quick – his bat is on and off his shoulder in this video:

Our Thoughts

Part of the return the Rays got for trading the best pitcher in their franchise history, Adames will be an MLB player. Of that we have no doubt. His floor is high enough to understand why the Rays felt comfortable dealing Price away for him and Drew Smyly. Any time you trade away a talent like Price and only get a few players in return, you know how high their ceilings must be.

More from Rays Prospects

The Rays have continued to do what the Tigers had already started before the trade, in that they pushed Adames to higher levels despite a young age and developing bat. His defensive abilities – possibly within the top 10 in the minors at SS – are so strong that each organization felt comfortable waiting for his bat to catch up. And therein lies the intriguing and unknown part of his overall ceiling – if the bat comes around and develops as so many expect, he’ll be a super-star, and if it doesn’t, he’ll be a SS similar to Andrelton Simmons.

Baseball America’s Hudson Belinsky points to the issue of whether or not Adames will stick at SS as his body matures. There are always going to be projections on that front that are hard to wager on, but from all we’ve seen from him so far it’s easy to see him manning SS – or 3B – for years to come.

His arm plays at either position, but his power doesn’t really project to play as well at 3B as it might at SS. With his current range and powerful arm, as well as his reckless abandon in getting to balls, we don’t expect this to be an issue, although he could easily man 3B if the Rays were in a bind.

When it comes to his bat, there are two areas we’d like to point out as strengths, and two areas he’ll need to work on. First, he does extremely well with RISP, hitting .291/.443/.527, something that shows promise as a potential middle-of-the-order run driving bat. Second, he provides strength vs LHP, hitting .274/.371/.425 against them in 2015.

That brings up the other side, vs RHP, where he’ll need to refine his approach and cut down on SO while increasing his BB rate. And finally, if he’s going to reach his full potential, Adames is going to have to increase his extra-base hitting ability, including more doubles and more HR power.


Adames does not needs to hit 30+ HR per season. If he can manage to hit a lot of doubles and add 15+ HR with 10+ SB, it should be more than enough to make him the full-time SS in TB. Adding to that down to road could potentially make him an All-Star, and there aren’t many people willing to bet against that happening.

With an off-the-charts makeup and baseball spirit, Adames is going to be a tremendous asset for the Rays for years to come. If we’re looking for a future Captain of the team, someone to take the reigns from Evan Longoria and run with it once he’s gone, Adames may be it.

You may wonder why we have him ranked 4th in the Rays system if we think so highly of him. The trepidation comes from his .121 ISO and 27% SO rate, both of which we entirely expect to improve in 2016, but will need to see in order to rank him ahead of the top 3 on our list.


Get excited about Adames. He’s closer to being MLB ready than the vast majority on our Top 50 list despite being so young, and his floor is so high that it’s easy to dream about a sky high ceiling. Whether he sticks at SS or moves to 3B down the road, he’s going to be an MLB player. That much we expect.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Top 50 Prospects List: 2016 Pre-Season

With a huge AA test ahead of him, one that will help determine just how high his ceiling is, we look forward to seeing his strength mature and help get his smooth and quick swing performing as powerfully as we hope it will become. Enjoy the show he’ll put on in Montgomery folks, and he’ll likely top this list heading into 2017 as the best overall position player to come through the system since Longoria came through it. We wish him all of the best and hope to see him in TB soon.