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Frankly, I don't think there's a single one of us who didn't have high expectations for Russ Adams when he was drafted out of the University of Notrh Carolina with the 14th overall pick in the 2002 MLB Draft. Adams is currently being challenged defensively and offensively at AAA Syracuse, hitting just .272/.344/.384 and showing a few signs of being stretched defensively at shortstop. Adams has plenty of time to turn his career around and become a star, but he hasn't performed up to reasonable expectations so far.

Or has he?

I decided to look at Adams's peers, as well as the plausible alternatives on the draft board when he was selected, to get an idea of just how encouraged or discouraged Jays fans should be with their erstwhile Shortstop Of The Future.

Note : This article does not examine the question of who the "best prospect" is among Russ Adams's contemporaries. Rather, it measures how close each is to contributing at a major league level, in response to a recent comment that Adams was unreasonably far away from the majors at this juncture.

Here's how Adams's peers, the players selected between #10 and #20 overall in the 2002 draft, have been doing this season:

Drew Meyer is hitting .232/.300/303, 53 games at AA Frisco, making errors like Adams.
Jeremy Hermida, an outfielder, is hitting .292/.374/.426, 76 games at high-A Jupiter.
Joe Saunders is 9-7, 3.41 in 105 IP at high-A Cucamonga, 1-2, 6.75 20 IP at AA Arkansas.
Khalil Greene is performing well in the majors.
Adams is hitting .272/.344/.384 at AAA Syracuse.
Scott Kazmir is a just-about-major-league-ready pitcher currently punching out the AA Southern League.
Nick Swisher is hitting .257/.402/.499 at AAA Sacramento.
Cole Hamels was shut down for the season after four starts in high-A.
Royce Ring had a 4.11 ERA in 11 AA appearances and has a 3.63 ERA in 29 AAA appearances.
James Loney is hitting .250/.323/.346 in 85 games at AA Jacksonville.
Denard Span is hitting .262/.361/.305 in 44 games at low-A Quad Cities.

And the other first-round collegians drafted below Adams:

Bobby Brownlie is 9-8, 3.41 ERA in 126 IP at AA West Tenn.
Jeremy Guthrie is 7-8, 4.23 ERA in 121 IP at AA Akron; he's been shelled in 4 AAA starts.
Joe Blanton is 8-8, 4.42 ERA in 150 IP at AAA Sacramento.
Matt Cain is kicking ass in AA and AAA, and is major-league ready.
John McCurdy is "hitting" .249/284/.364 at AA Midland.
Derick Grigsby is 6-8, 4.40 ERA in 118 IP at low-A Lexington.
Ben Fritz is 7-4, 5.63 ERA in 108 IP at AA Midland.

There is, in hindsight, no reason to have expected Adams to be major-league ready for next April. It certainly would have been nice. Few college players, even senior draftees, are ready for the bigs in two years from draft day. I thought Adams would be one; it looks like I'm wrong but I suppose the real story will be told next spring. We certainly can't write off Adams just yet. He has made AAA, is holding his own there, and hopefully will get the push forward that he needs.

Of the guys drafted 10-20 other than Adams, three are further along the road towards major league success (four if you count Royce Ring), and six are further away from contributing. Of the next seven collegians, one (Cain) is further along, Blanton and maybe Brownlie are about where Adams is, and the others are further back. It just goes to show, the grass always looks greener on the other side, but I can imagine the Texas Rangers would take Adams in a hearbeat over their choice at #10, Drew Meyer.

Has Russ Adams Been A Disappointment? | 28 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 05:16 PM EDT (#42067) #
It's funny, Craig. After reading the Adams comment, I did exactly what you did and came to the same conclusion. I was "an Adams skeptic" last year. I was of the view that his likely career would be as a major league utility infielder. I am a little more optimistic about him. I can see the possibility of him having a Bordick-like career in the majors, although that will require significant defensive improvement. We'll see if he can do it.
Craig B - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 05:26 PM EDT (#42068) #
Mike, I think the biggest obstacle Adams has in front of him, in terms of his MLB future, is his age. Adams has to continue to improve himself, so if he turns out to be a "late bloomer", he has an excellent foundation to build on. If he turns out to have blossomed early, his future will certainly be as a major leaguer, but as a spare part like you suggest. (I'm going to break the Carny Code here and offer a sneak preview of someone else's work... Mike Moffat has been doing some work on Adams that should be posted here soon which will show that low expectations might be justified with mid-first-round picks)

The worry I have about Adams is that, though he needs to keep working on his game, the distinct impression I get from Marty Pevey is that Adams needs a fire lit under his rear end. If that's the case, it doesn't bode well for his development. Maybe the pressure of Aaron Hill, now nipping at his heels, will spur him on.
_Blue in SK - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#42069) #
Question? Of the above drafted players how many could be eliminated from the discusssion (whether the are faring better or worse than Adams) because of their high demands for a signing bonus. Kazmir is one for sure that I recall.

While that is not relative to determining their worth as a player, it is a consideration for a small market, low budget team like the Jays.

It will be an interesting draft next year, when the Jays pick significantly higher than previous years (under JP) - which could correlate to a significantly higher bonus demand.
_Tommy - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 05:44 PM EDT (#42070) #
How do Adams' numbers stack up when park factors are taken into account? How skewed are his Syracuse stats, especially his slugging? Does anyone know where I can find this info?

I wish the Jays had an affiliate in Cucamonga. Much more fun than Charleston.
Gerry - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 05:45 PM EDT (#42071) #
Adams was always going to be a lead-off hitter type so his numbers are not that far short of where they need to be. I have seen him in three games this year and I have spoken to Pevey and others about him. I like his bat and he does have more pop than I expected, he can drive the ball into the gaps. I think he has only a little ways to go offensively, he needs to learn how to handle different pitches and patterns but his bat is not too far from major league ready.

His defense is more of the question mark. Adams has had trouble going in the hole between short and third for the ball. I am not too worried about the errors, most young shortstops have a lot, it is the arm strength that is the issue. Adams does not have the bat to play anywhere but short or second so a move to second could come soon. With Aaron Hill joining Adams in Syracuse next season, it could be time to make the move. Either Hill and Adams will platoon, or one of them will have to move.

Finally Pevey says that Adams is an athlete and he suggests that Russ has all the ability if he can learn to harness it. I am optimistic that Russ could be a major league second baseman by 2006.
_Nigel - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 05:50 PM EDT (#42072) #
One of the important issues here is that I believe that JP drafted Adams, in large part, because of how quickly he could make it to the majors. I believe, he chose a lower risk, lower reward type player because of the state of the farm system at the time. I think that philosophy was completely defensible. JP essentially said at the time that Adams was a very advanced college player that he likened to Walt Weiss (but for the defence he's bang on in his description). However, to the extent that Adams doesn't reach the majors significantly ahead of his contemporaries then much of his draft advantage is lost, in my opinion. As for whether he will be ready fo Toronto in the spring, well - for the last two years his numbers, in aggregate, are almost identical to Sequea's (and Sequea is a 2 or 3 months younger). Its that part that I find fairly sobering.
_R Billie - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#42073) #
In that case, why not give Sequea and extended opportunity at shortstop and see if his defence is significantly better. Adams might have to go on the 40-man this year though so that might influence the decision.
_Blue in SK - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#42074) #
OK, a though hit me from outta the blue. If Adams potential greatest value is at 2nd base and with the "hype" surrounding Hudson's defensive abilities and always mindful of our budget, does JP consider trading the O-Dog away for some power at a corner position?

I think this is Orlando's 2nd full season, so would he qualify as a Super 2 for arbitration?

Is Hudson the kind of player that deserves a Wells/Hinske long term deal and that you could build a team around?

JP has said in the past, that for a low budget team you need offense and even if Orlando matures offensively he is never going to be a superstar with the bat. Is this an opportunity to sell high?
Dave Till - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 06:03 PM EDT (#42075) #
My $.02: To get quality players from your farm system, you need to be both smart and lucky. At the moment, J.P. and the Jays have been the former, but definitely not the latter.

I don't think there's any way to tell whether a college graduate is going to take enough steps forward to become a major-league star. All you can do is use the best evaluation tools you have and then cross your fingers.
_lurker - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 06:05 PM EDT (#42076) #
I don't think Adams is a disappointment at all. But he isn't going to be a SS either. It's possible playing SS could be distracting his offense game as well.

Definitely Hudson should be shopped this offseason. Love how he plays but his value is as high as it will get. Adams may be a notch below defensively at 2B but should improve on the position overall with his offensive abilities.
_vic - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 06:11 PM EDT (#42077) #
don't trade hudson in favor of adams. that's a big step backwards.

hudson is hitting well this year, his july numbers are bringing his overall numbers down. his defense right now is better than russ adams could ever dream about.

adams is a downgrade defensively at 2b, and i'm not convinced he's an upgrade offensively, so what's the point?

if adams can't make it as a shortstop, than trade him. sure hudson's value is higher, but there's a reason for that.

keep the good young players on this team for many years and watch them develop. trading hudson would be tough to handle.
_Blue in SK - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 06:16 PM EDT (#42078) #
If the Jays aren't looking for (significant) offense from SS, could Orlando slide over there. He came up as a 3rd baseman didn't he? So he should have the arm to handle it.
Pistol - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 06:22 PM EDT (#42079) #
What's the percentage of 1st round picks that actually make the majors? Isn't it under 50%?
_Ducey - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 06:30 PM EDT (#42080) #
COMN for O Dog's stats coming up.

He hit .305/.363/.465 when he was 24 with 10 homers and 27 doubles in 100 games. These numbers are better than Adam's at the same age PLUS he is awesome defensively. He also is said to have great instincts, a good work ethic, and a good guy in the clubhouse.

I agree with vic, if you are going to trade Adams or the Dog, it had better be Adams, O Dog has him beat on all fronts.

You could switch Hudson to short, but I wonder if he may just become average defensively there. It would be nice to leave him at 2B and get another good defensive player at short - that would be fun to watch - especially if you are a Jays pitcher.
_Ducey - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 06:32 PM EDT (#42081) #
Sorry I messed up that link. Here it is.
_S.K. in N.J. - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 06:40 PM EDT (#42082) #
I don't see the point in trading Hudson just for the sake of handing Adams an everyday job in a position he can adequately handle. Hudson outhit Adams in the minors, and if I were a betting man, I'd say he'll do the same in the majors after all is said and done. JP shouldn't accept a downgrade just because that's where Adams projects to be. If Hudson is better than Adams, keep Hudson. It's that simple. If Adams can't handle SS, and 2B is already occupied, you try and move him for a respectable return (any chance of an Adams for Brownlie swap?).

I'm not completely writing off Adams (although I was the one who made the whole "David Eckstein II" comment if anyone remembers), but if he can't handle short-stop everyday, I really don't see how we benefit from trading a .760 OPS 2B (with potential to get better with the stick) with gold glove calibre defense plus other intangibles 'Ducey' mentioned, just to accomodate an inferior player.

If anyone infielder should be on the chopping block, it's Adams, not Hudson.
Pistol - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 07:02 PM EDT (#42083) #
If Hudson is better than Adams, keep Hudson. It's that simple.

In 2006 Hudson's going to cost a few million and Adams will make near, if not, the minimum salary.

If you were going to trade Hudson or Adams which would be better for team 2006:

A. Adams, $2 million, and a player that you'd get in return for Hudson in a trade; or

B. Hudson, $2 million less dollars, and the player you'd get in return for Adams.

I don't know the answer, but I don't think it's as simple as keeping the better player. There's a lot of other factors in play.

And I'm not convinced that Adams is destined to move from SS.
_NDG - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 07:08 PM EDT (#42084) #
I don't think Adams is a disappointment at all. But he isn't going to be a SS either. It's possible playing SS could be distracting his offense game as well.

Statement one and two don't go together. If Adams stays at short, then he's got a good shot a being a major leaguer. I don't think his bat is good enough to put him anywhere else.
_Ron - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 07:24 PM EDT (#42085) #
I don't want to see O-Dog get traded. But at the same time it don't look good for Adams if he's a poor defensive SS who has no power.

I remember in the off-season is was reported JP offered O-Dog to the Brewers for Ben Sheets and the M's for Rafeal Soriano.

What complicates matters is Hinske has turned out to be a bust. I would hate to see a infield combo at 3B, SS, and 2B that virtually has no HR and double pop.
Craig B - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 07:30 PM EDT (#42086) #
it don't look good for Adams if he's a poor defensive SS who has no power

See, that's what you might *think*. But wait until Adams grows into his man-strength!
_Ron - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 07:35 PM EDT (#42087) #
"man-strength" LOL who said that again?
Craig B - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 07:39 PM EDT (#42088) #
John Hattig, in this interview.
_Glen L - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 09:19 PM EDT (#42089) #
Is Raul Tablado a better long-term option at SS than Adams?
_Blue in SK - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 09:26 PM EDT (#42090) #
I think Pistol summed up my thoughts very well. With the Jays, until such time as the payroll increases significantly, every player transaction/movement/draft/etc... is going to be about getting value. And rarely does value = the best.
_Scott - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 09:26 PM EDT (#42091) #
Why you guys were busy relegating Adams to the scrap heap, he did have a nice game today. 2 for 3 with a hr.
Mike Green - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 09:54 PM EDT (#42092) #
To answer Glen L's question, either Raul Tablado or Aaron Hill might end up as a better long-term option at short. We'll see how they do next year.
_Mike Forbes - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 11:22 PM EDT (#42093) #
From all accounts that i've heard, Aaron Hill has a Major League caliber arm but he often rushes his throws and makes some stupid mistakes, Example: Throwing A bullet to first when he should just eat it. I haven't heard anything on how good his hands are though.
_greenfrog - Monday, August 16 2004 @ 11:46 PM EDT (#42094) #
I think Hill is looking better than Adams at the moment. Hill is hitting a bit better, with more power, and better OBP. Hill's strong arm (if this is true; I haven't seen him play) is another advantage. Time will tell, anyway.

At the same time, you can't write off Adams. He's done quite well so far--if a notch or two (or two-and-a-half) below Kazmir, Greene, Swisher, Cain, etc. If Adams can hit .280+, with decent OBP, speed, and doubles power, he'll be a useful SS or 2B. I agree with Ron though: a infield consisting of a struggling Hinske, Woodward, and Adams (with 1B a question mark) is hardly inspiring. And in the AL these days, singles-and-occasional-doubles-hitting position players aren't worth all that much.
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