Likelihood of Seeing Willy Adames Beginning to Dwindle
By Jordan Lindsay
If Willy Adames begins to turn it on sometime this summer, then a call-up to the Tampa Bay is likely; however, if he continues to struggle expect the organization to keep their top prospect in the minors.
Tampa Bay Rays top prospect and #17 on the MLB Pipeline Top 100, Willy Adames has not quite had the electrifying start he was hoping for in AAA-Durham. Through 43 games, approximately 30 percent of the MiLB slate, Adames has taken a major step back offensively, compared to his outstanding debut season in AA in 2016.
His walk rates have dropped from 13% to 10.2% and his strikeout rate has leaped from 21.3% to 24.0%, causing his average to drop to .236 from .274 with Montgomery. It’s certainly understandable for a variety of reasons, and Rays fans should not be hitting the panic button. Let’s take a step back.
Adames, 22 in September, was the crown jewel of the package the Rays received in a three-team deal that sent David Price to the Tigers in 2014. We all remember that one.
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Fast forward to 2017, Willy Adames is the fifth-rated shortstop prospect in the game and is the final player still under contract with Tampa Bay, with Drew Smyly being dealt to Seattle, and Nick Franklin being claimed on waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers after the Rays designated him for assignment on April 1.
A likely reason for the early season struggles for Adames is that the young shortstop is facing the best pitching he’s ever season in professional baseball. Triple-A is filled with not only future big leaguers, but starting and relief pitchers with MLB experience, some popping back in forth between AAA and MLB. There is an adjustment period for that.
With all this being said, there is no reason to rush the Rays top prospect to big league action. Tim Beckham is having a career-year in his first taste of playing everyday, and Matt Duffy is slowly but surely making his way back to game action, following offseason heel surgery.
At the plate his very high k-rate makes him a volatile risk, but his 0.9 oWAR is good for ninth in the league. In the field, Beckham is just as useful, with a 2.2 dWAR which is good for eighth in the MLB. Statistically, Beckham is a top-10 shortstop in the MLB… you heard that right.
Beckham has proved to be a useful and valuable everyday shortstop in 2017, leaving questions surrounding Matt Duffy’s future upon his arrival from the disabled list. It’s not Beckham that is really hurting the Rays when it comes to wins and losses, the Rays currently sit at 28-26, fourth in American League East and four games behind the first-place Yankees. It all comes back down to the bullpen, who has cost the team wins far too many times in this young season.
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If Adames begins to turn it on sometime this summer, as the temperatures begin to rise in professional baseball, then a call-up to Tampa Bay is likely; however, if he continues to struggle and put up mediocre numbers all season, expect the Rays organization to keep their top prospect in the minors until at least Opening Day of 2018.