Bat is Yankees rookie Adams' best tool
Likely future fan favorite is filling in nicely for injury-depleted Bronx Bombers
Baseball personnel often say there aren't many players flying under the radar. With the quantity and quality of scouting and player evaluation in today's game, most players are known to every organization. Some are better known than others.
Until recently, infielder David Adams was a player not widely discussed in prospect circles. That may have changed. Adams is now playing third base for the New York Yankees.
Adams has always been able to hit. Ever since his high school days at Grandview Preparatory School in Boca Raton, Fla., Adams has been successful with a bat in his hand. An excellent scholar-athlete, Adams played both basketball and baseball in high school. His dad, Dale, was his high school baseball coach.
As captain and most valuable player on his high school team, Adams won countless awards and accolades, including being an all-state selection, and drew the attention of scouts. The Detroit Tigers selected him in the 21st round in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.
Instead of turning professional at that time, Adams chose to attend the University of Virginia to play baseball for the Cavaliers.
Adams had an outstanding overall collegiate career. He finished hitting .325 over his three years. Again, Adams won a host of honors and confirmed the opinions of scouts and Major League front-office personnel. The Yankees selected Adams in the third round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Adams began his career in 2008 at low Class A Staten Island in the New York-Penn League and hit .257 in 297 plate appearances. That season was noteworthy, as it was his lowest batting average in his Minor League career. As of now, Adams has a .296 composite Minor League batting average. He typically puts the ball in play, striking out an average of only 44 times per year in parts of six Minor League season to date.
It hasn't all been easy for Adams in his career. On May 23, 2010, while playing for Double-A Trenton at Portland's Hadlock Field, Adams fractured his right foot sliding into second base. It was an injury that was originally classified and diagnosed as a sprained ankle. In July, the fracture in his foot was confirmed.
Adams was hitting .309 for Trenton with three homers and 32 RBIs when his career came to a sudden halt, as he required extensive rehabilitation.
It took Adams quite some time to recover from the injury. He missed most of the 2011 campaign, playing in only 29 games and hitting a combined .370 for the Yanks' Rookie League and advanced Class A teams as he progressed from the fracture.
Last season, Adams was able to compete in 86 games, going to the plate 383 times returning once again to Double-A Trenton. He hit .306 with eight homers, 23 doubles and 48 RBIs.
Perhaps if not for his injury, Adams may have been traded to Seattle for Cliff Lee in 2010. That did not happen, and Adams is still with the Yankees.
I was able to see Adams play in the most recent Arizona Fall League. The AFL afforded him an opportunity to catch up on some missed at-bats while facing quality pitching.
Adams hit .286 with three homers and 15 RBIs while playing for the Scottsdale Saguaros. He walked a surprisingly high 14 times and struck out on 13 occasions. In 84 at-bats, Adams had seven doubles and two triples, showing his ability to run following his injury. He played both second base and third base, making only two errors in 59 total chances. Adams got my attention when he hit a robust .348 against left-handed pitching.
Adams is a well-proportioned athlete at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. At age 26, the right-handed hitter is likely fully developed with no further height or weight additions.
Using a very level and compact swing, Adams has refined and very effective hitting mechanics. He uses no wasted motion and triggers his swing with a very slight toe tap as he gets his lower body in motion. Adams has the ability to hit a pitch in on his hands as well as extending his arms outside. His good plate coverage is one of his best qualities.
Adams will hit his share of home runs on pitcher's mistakes, and he is a very patient hitter with a good eye for the strike zone and quick hands through the ball. He should be able to compile his share of gap doubles with strength in his forearms and wrists. Solid eye-hand coordination enables Adams to use the barrel of the bat hitting the heart of the ball. He will continue to take his share of walks while he waits for his pitch.
Adams has the ability to repeat his mechanics at the plate, choosing to retain his swing without tinkering on a whim. Hitting is clearly his best and most refined tool. Defensively, Adams' foot injury has cost him some first-step quickness and has somewhat reduced his speed.
Recently promoted to play for the Yanks, Adams is proving to be a solid third baseman. He has a strong and accurate arm and enough range to make all the plays.
Never really fast, Adams is a smart baserunner, but not a player who will take too many liberties trying to steal bases.
I recently saw Adams in a series against the Orioles at Camden Yards. He was outstanding both on offense and defense. Adams' intensity, game awareness and evident tools confirmed my original evaluation. He is a solid and skillful baseball player.
Adams has the type of overall game that translates to becoming a fan favorite. He isn't flashy. He's consistent, dependable and dedicated.
Looking forward, Adams is capable of providing quality play to help ease some of the concerns caused by injuries or the need for depth.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.