"Spring training was fun," Adams said of big league camp. "It was a good learning experience for me. I got to know the guys and took all I could out of it."
Adams, who is a Top Ten prospect in the Yankees' organization according to several publications, went 8-1 during the 2016 season with the Thunder and is already 2-0 this year.
He threw five hitless innings on April 8th in Erie and racked up eight strikeouts in just under six innings against Portland on April 13, and he has only allowed four hits total during his first two starts.
Adams said he has been focused on improving his game throughout the year but is realistic about his progression.
"I’ve been working on my changeup and using that effectively and locating fastball command," he said. "It’s still early right now so breaking balls are alright, could be better. I don't usually start heating up until mid-season."
Last season, Adams posted a 2.33 ERA between the Thunder and High-A Tampa, starting 24 of 25 games. He recorded 144 strikeouts in 127.1 innings, going 13-1.
Pitching coach Jose Rosado recognized Adams' success last season but is looking ahead as New York's 2015 fifth round pick improves his delivery to the corners of the strike zone.
"This is a new year," Rosado said. "We have some new goals for him. I know it’s still early in the season, but we would like to see a much better fastball command. It’s something he knows and he's been working on. We know his sliders and curveballs are pretty good secondary, so now that he’s developing good changeups, that’s going to help him even more."
Opponents may fare better at the higher levels if Adams does not master his command, according to Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell.
"He has the tendency to get the ball up sometimes," Mitchell said. "At this level and the next level and the next level, he’s starting to get hit more often than he did before."
Still, Mitchell sees great potential in Adams, who has the third best WHIP (0.88) among Eastern League pitchers. At just 22, Adams is the youngest player among this category's top 16 players.
He is currently 18-2 in his minor league career as well.
"He was a reliever up until last year," Mitchell noted. "He didn’t have to throw a lot of those pitches so he’s not really refined yet. But nobody goes out there and competes as well as he does. He's getting better and better every time."
Noting the still sizeable ceiling left to his game, Mitchell credits Adams' confidence and work ethic for his outstanding performance throughout 2016 and during his first starts this season. Mitchell said the young pitcher practices between each inning and is "on the verge [of advancing from Trenton], probably more than others."
"You’d have to be blind not to see that," Mitchell added.
In the meantime, Adams, who is slated to start Wednesday's game, is enjoying his time with the Thunder.
"I’m just trying to go out and do my best, no matter what level I’m at — whether it’s Triple-A, Double-A, wherever," Adams said. "I’m comfortable here. I know the guys, and it’s a good atmosphere, a good ballpark. If they think I’m ready to move up, they’ll make the decision."
Rosado said there is "no doubt [Adams] has the stuff to pitch at any level," but the coaching staff will continue to work with him while he plays for Trenton.
"He’s here, and our job is to continue to do our plan," Rosado said. "We have a system that I believe in. He understands that he’s here to compete. We have a plan with him, and we’re going to stick with it."
Like Adams, shortstop Gleyber Torres and fellow pitcher Justus Sheffield are also strong assets to the team, players with a ton of ability who could theoretically play at a higher level right now too, and Mitchell does not question their dedication to the game at any level.
"I think they realize that they’re not there yet," Mitchell said. "They’re out to prove themselves. These guys are so competitive that they’re out to prove themselves every single time anyway."
And Adams is no different this time around either.