Name: Chance Adams
DOB: August 10, 1994
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup.
Fastball. Adams' game starts and ends with a true plus fastball, one that will flash plus-plus potential on any given day, and it's not just about the rahe radar gun readings either. A former reliever in college, he sits mostly in the 95-96 mph range and tops out right at 100 mph, and he's shown the same kind of power range in his brief time in the starting role too. And it's not just power that he brings, he has top-notch control and above average command as well and that's what makes it a true elite pitch overall. The fastball itself is not very deceptive and there isn't a ton of movement either but it's old school power with command; 'here it is, try to hit it'.
Other Pitches. While Adams has the kind of elite fastball where he could live on throwing that pitch nearly alone, the fact is he has two plus breaking pitches in his arsenal too. The one he favored entering the professional ranks was his slider, a true wipeout pitch with great late-break lateral action in the 85-88 mph range. It still is one of his big-time strikeout weapons but it's beginning to take a back seat to what is rapidly becoming a plus power curveball. Sitting mostly in the 82-85 mph range, it also has a lot of late biting action as it crosses the plate. He can throw both of them for strikes at any time and the same can be said for his solid big league changeup too. Like the curveball it is a pitch that is relatively new to him but has come an extremely long way in a short period of time. Given the movement he's able to generate with his breaking pitches it stands to reason that the changeup could eventually develop more depth and fade the more he works on it in the coming years. For now it's average but it does show above average or better potential long-term.
Pitching. It isn't easy facing Adams for a multitude of reasons. Forget the plus stuff for a moment, it's his innate ability to pound the strike zone with four different pitches that makes it a complete guessing game at the plate and making matters worse for batters is his up-tempo style of pitching and refusal to get behind in counts too frequently; a batter can and will get down quickly 0-2 in counts if he's up there to see what Adams has initially. He isn't very tall but while the lack of a bigger downhill plane can be a perceived negative the fact is his delivery is compact and very repeatable. What he lacks in height he more than makes up with a rock-solid frame. Very strong and built like a fire hydrant, he has the makings of a being a real innings eater. About the only real question mark in Adams' game at this point is whether or not the plus velocity will hold up as a starting pitcher from start to start over the course of an entire season, something he's never really done before.
Projection. Adams has every box checked for a potential big league closer someday. Elite velocity? Check. Elite breaking pitches? Check. Ability to pound the strike zone? Check. Ability to generate swings and misses? Big-time check. In fact, it's not far-fetched to envision a Craig Kimbrel-like impact on the back-end of a big league bullpen down the road given his current skillset and similar physique. However, while that kind of ceiling in itself is quite vast, Adams just may have enough to potentially slide into the front-half of a big league rotation given his depth of quality pitches, his efficient style of pitching, and natural strength. He has the game to be that kind of starting pitcher but it's his endurance in that capacity that comes into question; he's never made more than ten starts in a particular season so he will need to prove he can maintain the stuff over the course of a full season in a starting role. Until he proves that he best projects as a power reliever but with the caveat that there's some special starting potential too once he gains more experience.
ETA. 2018. If he remained a reliever Adams could easily follow a Jacob Lindgren-like minor league path and ascend to the big leagues in the season following his draft year, which in his case would be this upcoming season. However, the Yankees have been tantalized enough to at least try him initially in the starting role. He should open up in the high-A Tampa Yankees rotation at least to begin with while the weather is warmer to get him acclimated to starting but he should see ample Double-A innings in 2016. It's not outlandish to think that even starting he may possibly need just one full minor league season before getting his big league shot.