Jays Journal’s own Cam Black-Araujo had the opportunity to chat with Blue Jays MiLB prospect, Riley Adams, who has had a great start to the 2019 season.
If there’s two things prospects love most, baseball wise, it might just be promotions and finding their name listed on their teams top 30 prospects list on MLB Pipeline.
If that statement is true, it’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for the Blue Jays 2017 third-rounder Riley Adams.
Earlier in May he was promoted from High-A Dunedin to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and as Blue Jays players like Danny Jansen and Rowdy Tellez lose prospect status, he has also found his name added to the Blue Jays top 30 prospects and even moving up on it, now slotted in at # 28.
After starting out the year again in Dunedin, Adams is thrilled to continue moving on up in the Blue Jays organization.
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“It’s always a good thing when they tell you you’re moving up and going to the next level,” explains Adams, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound catcher. “I spent all of last year in Florida with Dunedin and I went through some struggles early on, especially hitting. I was able to work through that a little bit towards the end of the year and then I was able to get off to a pretty good start in Dunedin swinging the bat and it felt really comfortable so to get the call definitely felt great.”
Joining him in New Hampshire is someone he’s become very familiar with since being drafted, the Blue Jays top pitching prospect, hard throwing right-hander Nate Pearson.
Through their time in Dunedin, Adams has almost worked as Pearson’s personal catcher as he was behind the dish for all but one of Pearson’s starts and has now caught him at three different levels, with Vancouver, Dunedin, and New Hampshire.
There’s been some ups and downs for the battery mates as they endured the comebacker that broke Pearson’s forearm and ended his 2018 season in just his first start of the year. But Adams has also been there for Pearson as he’s torn up the minor leagues with 43 strikeouts to just three walks over 26 innings this season.
“The guy is the real deal. He can throw the ball 100 miles per hour and is commanding all of his off-speed. He’s a really fun guy to catch.”
“I’ve known him since Vancouver, so I think we have a good thing going when he’s on the mound and I’m catching,” says Adams. “When he’s on the mound you know there’s going to be some excitement. Especially as an offence, you are excited when he’s on the mound because you know you are always going to have a chance to win.”
After growing up in the San Diego area, the California high school circuit had Adams prepared to face pro talent after seeing guys like pitcher Brady Aiken, 2015’s first overall pick and outfielder Alex Jackson who went 6th overall in the same draft. That year, the first round saw five California high schoolers selected and Adams himself taken in the 37th round by the Cubs.
He decided to attend the University of San Diego, Kris Bryant’s alma mater, just thirty minutes down the road from his hometown of Encinitas, where he started all three years and won the 2017 West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
Adams had rarely experienced playing for a home team outside of San Diego and when he was drafted by the Blue Jays, he was shipped off to Vancouver less than a month after playing his final college game. Adams has fond memories of his first taste of pro ball with the Canadians, and not just because he batted .305 with 35 RBI’s.
“I went up to Vancouver and I thought that was the best experience I could have asked for in my first summer of pro ball,” says Adams, reminiscing on his summer of 2017.
“It was a long year for a lot of the college guys that got drafted and having our season start in February and then go through the short season as well, sometimes you have those long bus rides and you might not feel 100 per cent but when you have 6,000 (people) cheering you on and they’re excited for you, it’s pretty easy to get up and play your best.”
Adams carried the same offensive approach into this season that he had with Vancouver and has become more patient at the plate, which saw his .277 batting average accompanied by a .433 on-base percentage in Dunedin this year. He now has seven games under his belt with the Fisher Cats and he is finding his groove offensively with five hits, a home run and four RBI’s in his past four games.
According to MLB Pipeline, Adams has received good reviews from club officials for his overall work behind the dish, including his ability to control a game and his pitchers. But as Adams himself knows, his ability to provide some offensive pop from the catcher’s position will be what helps him progress through the organization.
Adams is now just two levels away from the ultimate goal. And that ultimate goal is to return to where his pro career started… in Canada.
But this time on the other side of the country, in Toronto with the big club. You can follow Riley on Instagram at @Riley_Adams.