PuRP No. 12: Cristhian Adames (632 points, 37 ballots) | Winter 2014 Ranking: 15 | High Ballot 7, Mode Ballot 14
Cristhian Adames is another player who has been around as a prospect for what seems like forever. Indeed, he signed with the Rockies before Rocktober in the summer of 2007. It's hard then to remember that the shortstop just turned 24 years old a few days ago.
If I were to sum up the prospect status of Adames, here's what I would boil it down to:
1. He has an excellent glove at shortstop, at one point being named the best defensive infielder in Colorado's system by Baseball America.
2. He's been at least two years younger than average at every stateside level while moving steadily up the minor league ladder and producing at least a 90 wRC+ at every level in combination with that great defense.
3. The Rockies thought enough of Adames to add him to their 40-man roster after the 2012 season.
All of this adds up to a prospect package I've been watching closely for years, leading me to place him 12th on my ballot.
Of course, a main reason (besides his youth) why Adames has only 15 major league plate appearances to his name is that he's never been mistaken for a slugger. After all, his career minor league line is .278/.345/.370. The good news is that in Triple-A, Adames has produced his best offensive lines of his career, with a 122 wRC+ in 163 plate appearances last year and a .298/.344/.423 (104 wRC+) line in 406 plate appearances this year. In addition, Adames won the Dominican Winter League batting title after the 2014 season with a .353/.426/.473 line.
Before the year, Adames was one of the three prospects selected by Baseball Prospectus as "Factors on the Farm" -- prospects who will contribute to the big league roster -- in 2015. Here's Nick Faleris on Adames:
Adames provides steady hands, smooth actions, and adequate range at the six spot, making him a worthy utility option should the need arise at the big-league level next year. The bat likely plays subpar, even considering the position, but the former international signee shows a solid feel for contact from both sides of the plate and could be serviceable as a down-order option if forced into regular action.
Not all kind words, but a major league utility player has considerable value. If Adames continues to hold his own at the plate, a major league career as a utility player is a near certainty. It's easy to look at Adames and see Jonathan Herrera. It's also easy to forget that Herrera has been in the league for several years now -- and that Adames is younger with a better batting line than Herrera had at this point in his career.
Adames is a relatively low strikeout player (about 15 percent) with an acceptable 8 percent walk rate. I'd like to see more of him against big league pitching in 2015 (he really should have been up in place of Rafael Ynoa, to name one) to see what kind of a player the Rockies have in Adames.
More recently, MLB.com rated Adames as the 20th best player in the system in its mid-year update:
It was Adames' glove that carried him to the big leagues and it's likely what will keep him there. The infielder is very sure-handed, making every routine play and then some. He has a very accurate, above-average arm. In addition to playing a very solid shortstop, he's shown an ability to handle defensive responsibilities at second and third to increase his versatility and value. Adames has made strides offensively. While he's never going to be a force with the bat, he's learned that he can contribute by getting on base and putting the ball in play consistently.
Adames played exceptionally well in the Dominican Winter League, realizing he doesn't have to try to do too much at the plate to succeed. He moved all around the infield there, as well, setting himself up for a career as a super-utility type.
Cristhian's high floor makes a substantive major league career very likely ... and if that bat develops more, he'll be something more than a utility player for Colorado. With that said, next year Adames will be out of minor league options and will need to break camp with the big league club if he is going to stay in the organization. I'm looking for him to at the very least get a September call-up and some playing time as a super-utility player this season.
Contract Status: 2007 FA (DR), 40 man roster, final option in progress
MLB ETA: Now-ish