This post is the first in a series called “Farm Fodder” that will examine White Sox prospects who could make a significant impact in Chicago in the coming years. Recent trades have significantly increased the amount of talent in the White Sox Organization, but there are also a few very talented players that remain from before the trades. The first prospect we will examine is Spencer Adams.
A lot of attention has been given to the pitching prospects the White Sox acquired in the Sale and Eaton trades, and rightfully so. However, Spencer Adams has an opportunity to be a special pitcher as well. Spencer Adams is a right-handed starting pitcher who was drafted by the White Sox in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft out of White County High School in Georgia. For the Sox, who do not have a great record with high school pitchers and usually target polished college pitchers, Adams was a slightly surprising pick. However, Adams was a unique case: a very polished high school pitcher who was highly lauded for his outstanding command, great stuff, and incredible athleticism. Adams is 6’-3” tall and worked at 92-96 mph with his fastball in high school. A quick search of YouTube will yield Spencer Adams high school basketball highlights that show just what a great athlete this kid is. Another factor leading to the Sox selecting Adams is that he was projected to be drafted in the first round, as high as 22nd overall. That he fell to the Sox all the way down at the 44th pick made the selection a no brainer, and the Sox came to an agreement on a $1.82 MM full slot value signing bonus. A few other notable players were drafted in the 2nd round of the 2014 draft, including Astros 1B prospect A. J. Reed who was taken 42nd overall, and Brent Honeywell, screwball throwing top prospect of the Tampa Bay Rays, who was taken 72nd overall.
The results for Adams so far in his minor league career have been solid, but mixed. An excerpt from MLB Pipeline breaks down Adams’ stuff as it has translated from high school to the marathon of pro ball,
“Though Adams worked with a 92-96 mph fastball and flashed a plus slider as a prep senior, his stuff hasn’t been as sharp as he has adjusted to the rigors of a full pro season. He pitched mostly at 88-92 mph and had a less devastating slider, though his feel for those pitches remained intact. He also has the makings of an average curveball and changeup. “
So Adams’ stuff has not been as electric or as dominant as it was in high school, but he remains very effective. He is a strike throwing machine who has only walked 53 batters in 334 career pro innings, and the results have still been solid for the most part – though his strikeouts were down in 2016. Adams made nine starts at AA Birmingham in 2016 as a 20 year old after beginning the year at A+ Winston-Salem. He struggled through his first few starts, but 5 of his final 6 starts at AA were quality starts. I would expect Adams to begin the year at AA, with a call up to AAA a strong possibility should Adams continue pitching well. Adams is still listed at 171 lbs, so look for him to add strength to his frame and fill out his uniform more the next few years. This would help Adams to regain some of the “lost” stuff and maintain his success as continues his career. Should Adams continue successfully on this path, look for him to be pitching in Chicago as early as mid-2018.
Before the Sale and Eaton trades, MLB Pipeline ranked Adams the Sox 3rd best prospect. He is now ranked the Sox 7th best prospect. While he certainly doesn’t have the pizazz of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Michael Kopech, there is obviously a lot to like about the pitching of Spencer Adams. He pounds the strike zone, gets in a rhythm, and works fast. It’s very hard to teach the advanced pitching feel Adams has, especially at his young age, and his athleticism certainly is a gift. The White Sox have brought him along slowly in his development, but Adams has succeeded at every level and absolutely earned every promotion he has been given. I estimate that Adams’ future will be in the middle of the White Sox rotation as a very solid #3 starter. Others estimate him to be more of a back end of the rotation starter, but I think his command and aggressive style will help make him an above average starter. I certainly will be continuing to watch his development from afar, and look forward to Spencer Adams’ potential Major League debut sometime in the not too distant future. -DV
Spencer Adams Video:
Adams Gets Strikeout, 2016 A+ Winston Salem: http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=822843383&sid=milb
Adams Gets Strikeout, 2015 A+ Winston Salem: http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=273163183&sid=milb
Baseball America, 2015: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJC6-XMS5Os