The Jays Journal staff returns with our yearly Top 30 prospect rankings. The #28 spot goes to University of San Diego drafted catcher Riley Adams.
Name: Riley Adams
Position: C Age: 23
Height: 6’4” Weight: 225lbs
Throws: Right Bats: Right
Acquired: 3rd Round Pick in 2017, 99th Overall
2019 Level: High-A, AA ETA: 2021
Riley Adams originally comes from Encinitas, California where he was original drafted out of his high school Canyan Crest Academy in San Diego, California by the Chicago Cubs in 2014. In High School, Adams was named as an All-Palomar League selection in all four years of high school. The Cubs geared in on him in the draft after batting .455 with 10 doubles and five home runs in his senior year.
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Adams did not come to terms on any contract offers from the Cubs and attended the University of San Diego for three seasons. Over three years in the NCAA he batted .305 with 24 home runs and 110 RBI over 159 games, which included his final season where he batted .312 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI. Like many top prospects, Adams played a season in the Cape Cod League and although his power numbers went down with the wood bats, his batting averaged stayed high as he finished the season batting .333 in 117 plate appearances.
After a successful collegiate career, Adams was selected in 2017 in the third round by the Blue Jays. Both the team and player were able to come to terms on a contract at his slot value which led to him reporting to Vancouver and playing in his first game on June 23 going 1 for 5 with a run.
Adams completed his first professional season with the Vancouver Canadians where he batted .305 with 20 extra base hits over 52 games. Adams’ flaw at the plate would be his strikeout rate as he was averaging a strikeout almost every four at bats, and whiffed almost three times as much as he walked. 1)
In 2018, Adams would play the entire season in High-A Dunedin where his offensive side of the game dropped in the higher league. 2) He ended up slashing .246/.352/.361 across 349 at-bats, adding 26 doubles, but just four home runs.
Adams showed more promise on offence in 2019, hitting a combined .261/.366/.443 with 14 home runs, 18 doubles, and 51 RBI across 352 at-bats. That performance was across two levels, as he started the season back in High-A and put up a .434 OBP across 83 plate appearances, and posted a respect .349 mark at the next level.
When Adams debuted in the system in 2017, he showed that he controlled the running game very well as he throw out 40% of would be base stealers while surrendering just three passed balls and two errors in his first season. His defensive side of the game struggled a bit in 2018 though, or at least was not as good as his first season. Adams had almost four times the amount of passed balls in little more than double the opportunities.
The first two professional seasons for Adams looked to be drastic opposites and he went from looking like a top catching prospect to someone who could fizzle out. However, Adams was able to get back on track in 2019 and after a short stint back in Dunedin he earned a promotion to AA New Hampshire.
Adams split the catching duties with Alberto Mineo where his defensive side of the game seemed to get a bit more on track. Adams threw out 31% of the base runners, however he still struggles block balls as too many are getting by him.
According to MLB.com’s Baseball Savant, Adams rated as a 45 for both Hitting and Power, viewed as a slightly above average hitter for a catching prospect. The projections like his defence a little more though, as he’s rated as a 55 for the ‘Field’ category, and a 50 for ‘Arm’, while he’s a typical slow runner as a backstop, coming in at 30.
The Blue Jays have arguably some of the best depth at the catching position and Adams has a few younger and highly regarded catchers climbing the ranks. He will likely get time in Buffalo this season and catch some highly regarding pitching prospects. I believe that Adams will likely find himself in a different organization by the start of next season, but not because of lack of talent, more because he has talent but there is not room on the Blue Jays for Adams to climb much further.
What do you think the future holds for Riley Adams?