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2015 IBI Preview Capsules: RHP Austin Adams

Adams offers Cleveland a solid bullpen option with a little upside in 2015

2015 IBI Preview Capsules: RHP Austin Adams
Austin Adams (Photo: IBI)
January 2, 2015
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Austin Adams, RHP

Throws: Right -- Bats: Right -- Entering his age-28 season -- Contract: Pre-arbitration player (under team control through 2021, on track for arbitration eligibility in 2018)

2014 Overview: After missing all of the 2012 season following shoulder surgery, Adams has been back on track over the past two years, culminating with his major league debut on July 12, 2014. Adams’ 7.0 major league innings did not go particularly well, but the right-hander is still a depth arm in the conversation for time in Cleveland in 2015.

Versus Right-handers: Against right-handers over the past two seasons in the minors, Adams pitched quite a bit like Max Scherzer out of the bullpen. Right-handed batters struck out a little over 28 percent of the time against Adams while only walking roughly seven percent, which is the kind of strikeout-to-walk ratio that should translate well to the majors. Combined with Adams’ .552 OPS in that time against righties, the right-hander appears to be someone who will be able to neutralize same-handed batters at the major league level.

Versus Left-handers: Adams’ strikeout rate in the minors over the past two seasons stayed the same against lefties, hovering around 28.0 percent, but the right-hander’s walks take a jump against opposite-hand batters. Though Adams improved in 2014, the right-hander still walked over 13 percent of left-handers in 2013 and 2014, which contributed to his .716 OPS against them. Adams’ high-strikeout, high-walk combination against left-handers may be worse than his performance against right-handers, but it can work. Trevor Rosenthal was effective in 2014 while putting up the same strikeout and walk rates against all batters that Adams put up against lefties; walking that many batters is not ideal, but as Rosenthal’s performance shows, it can work.

Pitch Mix: During his major league debut, Adams showed off the mid-90s fastball that makes him interesting going forward. Relievers who can average over 96 miles per hour on a fastball will get chances in the majors, and while Adams is still looking to find success in Cleveland, that fastball will certainly help. Adams also threw a slider in his major league time -- throwing it roughly 25 percent of the time to go with around 75 percent fastballs -- with both pitches coming in hard and fast.

Fantasy Impact: Adams is not guaranteed to start the 2015 season in the majors -- making him hard to own in fantasy leagues -- but he is an interesting reliever to keep an eye on in deep leagues. The right-hander has the classic late-inning profile in his high-velocity fastball-slider one-two punch, but right now, Adams is far enough removed from any save (or even hold) chances that there are plenty of other options fantasy players should look to ahead of the right-hander.

Summary: Though Adams’ major league debut could have gone better, but overall, the right-hander took steps forward in 2014. Time will tell if Adams’ concerted effort to limit his walks will pay off in the long run -- the lower walk total was also accompanied by a lower strikeout rate -- but even if the walks come back, the right-hander will still have some value. At the very least, Adams should be a solid option to have as the seventh man in the bullpen or as one of the first arms up from Columbus, but given his raw stuff, the right-hander has some nice upside to go with a solid floor.

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User Comments

January 3, 2015 - 12:16 PM EST
Adams does have a changeup with a ton of movement, but his fastball command was so erratic that hitters just watched it go out of the zone. It also didn't seem to be thrown with the same arm action as the FB, so its upside is questionable. Adams had a power curve that he abandoned for the slider when he moved to the bullpen, but I wonder if that could be a better third pitch to attack LHers than the change.
January 2, 2015 - 12:19 PM EST
I think Adams is a long shot to start the year in Cleveland, but do think that if he stays healthy he could see a fair amount of time on the ML roster. Don't think he necessarily needs another pitch, but he does need to improve his command and get reps and continue to build his confidence. He missed a year, and as mentioned, hasn't really pitched that much. However, anyone that can get it up to 97-98 mph has impact potential, so IMO he'll be one of the more interesting young players to pay attention to this spring.
January 2, 2015 - 12:05 PM EST
I don't think Adams had TJ surgery. His was a shoulder operation to remove some "loose bodies" if I recall. Anyway, the guy is definately a future bullpen arm, and the 3rd pitch isn't needed unless he's going to be a long reliever. All he needs now is the capability to throw his pitches where they are intended to go. It's really that simple, but not that easy.
January 2, 2015 - 11:19 AM EST
Adams is 28 but IIRC he started out as an infielder and has not been pitching that many years, plus he had the Tommy John. Which makes me think he may not have topped out yet as he has not been pitching for 10 years like most 28-year-olds. In fact, he only has five years of pitching experience.

He needs to take another step forward this year and not plateau or he'll be a AAAA type pitcher. My guess is McAllister ends up in the pen and Adams in Columbus. They're both similar pitchers, although much different in size obviously.
January 2, 2015 - 10:59 AM EST
I think the key w Adams will be the development of a good change. At 5'10" he doesn't have the tilt on the heater and guys will eventually adjust to him unless he can get them leaning and lunging. He's got one, just a matter of getting good with it.
January 2, 2015 - 8:58 AM EST
I think GSon hit on something BIG going into this coming season....the loss of Kevin Cash and the addition of a new bullpen coach. Whomever that will be is guess work, but I think there are some interesting options for the Tribe. I'm hopeful it will be a seamless transition, but I'm not confident in that. I think it should remain a priority for the Tribe to add another veteran bullpen arm. The bullpen is one area I think the Tribe will see regression with the extensive over use of Allen, Shaw, Scrabble, and Atchison.

Slotting McAllister in the pen would certainly relieve those concerns, but I'm not convinced McAllister won't win the last slot in the rotation.
January 2, 2015 - 8:47 AM EST
Adams is at least a good trade chip. Personally, I prefer Shawn Armstrong over Adams bc I think he's got more upside but both could be nice back of the bullpen arms in the near future.
January 2, 2015 - 8:42 AM EST
Austin Adams is poised and ready to win a bullpen spot.. It won't be easy, but, he has a ML arm and two plus pitches.. both can be devastating.. Whoever the new bullpen coach is (perhaps Jason Bere'?) and Mickey Callaway should be able to utilize this guy's talent out of the gate to start the 2015 season..

I'm a big fan.. Thoughts?...

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