When the Rays dealt Matt Garza, they got Chris Archer, the 27th overall prospect in the game, per Baseball America and Hak Ju Lee, the 92nd overall prospect. When they traded away James Shields, they acquired Will Myers, the #4 prospect, and Jake Odorizzi, the #69 prospect. Now that they’ve moved David Price, they’ve received only one prospect, and while he didn’t rank in the top 100, he still has plenty of potential. Accompanying Nick Franklin and Drew Smyly to the Rays is Willy Adames, a young shortstop in the Tigers organization.
Only 18, Adames is the youngest everyday player in the Full-A Midwest League, yet he is holding his own, excelling in fact. He has hit .269/.346/.428 in exactly 400 plate appearances, with 6 home runs and 12 triples. The six long balls may not seem like much but power is rarely manifest in teenage players; at the same age, Miguel Cabrera hit just seven shots in 465 plate appearances.
Not that he has Cabrera level power. Ranking Adames as Detroit’s third best prospect and now Tampa’s second, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo wrote that his bat speed should yield average power once he fills out.
He has also walked 39 times for a walk rate of 9.8%, which is above the major league average of 7.8% and practically precocious for a player his age. Plate discipline is often considered an acquired skill, but more often than not, its innate, and this is a promising sign going forward.
In his scouting report, Mayo also wrote that Adames, who was given a $420,000 contract out of the Dominican Republic during the 2012-13 international signing period, could be a “solid hitter once he makes more consistent contact.”
Of course, that has been his most glaring issue. The teenager has struck out 96 times in 100 plate appearances for a strikeout rate of 24%. Considering his age and level, 24% is not terrible, but it could undercut his ability to hit for average in the upper levels.
In the field, Adames has the hands and arm strength to play shortstop, but he lacks the agility. Doubtless, the Rays will try to keep him there as long as possible, but he could be ultimately destined for second or third.
Willy is the lottery ticket, the wild card in this deal. According to Mayo many executives from around baseball considered him to be the Tigers’ top prospect. Even considering Detroit’s weakened farm system, that is high praise for a player so far from the majors, a testament to his upside.