He's never cracked the top 10 of any PuRPs list and hasn't garnered a mention in any conversation about the game's most promising prospects, but Colorado Rockies infielder Cristhian Adames may have the best shot of any player in the system at carving out a long, solid big league career.
Adames may not continue hitting upwards of .330 with a .380 on-base percentage, as he's doing now, in the majors. For one thing, he's sporting a .417 batting average on balls in play. And he doesn't exactly have prodigious extra-base power, hitting just one double -- and no triples or homers -- in 34 plate appearances this season.
But Adames' profile and approach at the plate suggests the 24-year-old Dominican is in for some decent seasons at the highest level. Only two stateside minor leaguers in the Rockies organization -- infielders Angelys Nina and Zach Osborne -- had lower strikeout rate among players with at least 100 plate appearances than Adames, who whiffed just 11 percent of the time. Adames' 7 percent walk rate is the highest of the three, and it's positive trait he's displayed throughout his minor league career. Plus, Nina and Osborne hit .300/.333/.402 and .246/.304/.305, respectively. Adames managed a great-by-comparison .311/.362/.438 line -- though, again, that decent slugging number has yet to manifest itself at the highest level.
"A low-power hitter with decent on-base skills who doesn't strike out a lot? Sounds an awful lot like Jonathan Herrera," you may be thinking. But during his time in the minors, Adames showed an ability to hit for some pop. Now entering his physical prime, Adames has used advantageous hitter's parks to post a .440 slugging percentage in parts of two Triple-A seasons. Herrera, who slugged .365 in the minors, never even sniffed that, even with the benefit of some of the same parks.
Instead, for a glimpse of what Adames may turn into, look no further than this Fangraphs piece from last week that attempted to project the middle infield prospect and fellow recent call-up Tom Murphy.
One of the top statistical comps for Adames is Mark Loretta, who posted a 100 wRC+ -- exactly league average -- for five different teams in parts of 15 major league seasons. As the article mentions, this is an optimistic scenario for Adames, but it's also one that is not at all unrealistic.
Perhaps even better, Adames flourishing into a league average hitter who is also a slick fielder would give the Rockies the option of trading DJ LeMahieu as he becomes more expensive, all the while providing a nice stop gap in the middle of the infield while prospects like Brendan Rodgers and Forrest Wall, both of whom have higher ceilings than Adames, rise through the system.
With the presence of LeMahieu and Jose Reyes, whom the Rockies are likely still trying to showcase in the event that an offseason trade opportunity presents itself, Adames won't get much playing time through the end of the season. But he's an intriguing option for an infield spot heading into 2016, and will certainly be a player to keep an eye on if given semi-regular playing time at that point.