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May 20, 2012

The Call-Up

Matt Adams

by Kevin Goldstein

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The situation: With Lance Berkman going down with a knee injury in Saturday's game against the Dodgers, the Cardinals called on their top hitting prospect at Triple-A to replace him. Last year's Texas League MVP, Adams was hitting .340/.375/.603 in 37 games, including a 13-for-28 (.464) mark in his past seven games with three doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Background: It took some time for Adams to be taken seriously as a prospect. A 23rd-round pick in 2009 out of Slippery Rock University (and now the first player from that school to reach the majors), Adams hit .310/.355/.541 in his full-season debut at Low-A Quad Cities, but barely registered a blip on the prospect radar as he was seen as a bad-bodied, first base-only type with no résumé, beating up on inferior competition. That all changed in 2011, when bumped up two levels to Double-A, as he slugged .300/.357/.566 at Double-A Springfield with 32 home runs in 101 games, leaving scouts saying that despite his background and concerns about his size, Adams' bat is very much for real.

What he can do: While he has plus power and is a good 30 or more pounds more than his listed weight of 230, Adams looks like an all-or-nothing one-dimensional slugger, but he's actually a pure hitter with power. His strikeout rate is surprisingly manageable for a player of his type, as he has excellent hand-eye coordination and a knack for hard contact, while simply letting his size and massive strength work for him as opposed to muscling up his swing. He is an aggressive hitter who could use a more patient approach, as he looks early in the count for fastballs to drive, and big league pitchers could take advantage of that tendency. He'll never win a Gold Glove award, but he's a decent first baseman for his size, and needless to say, a well-below-average runner.

Immediate big league future: Adams will likely become the Cardinals regular first baseman, at least against right-handed pitching, but it's hard to say how long this will last until the results of Berkman's MRI reveal the severity of his injury. Scouts believe he could hit for average and power right away, provided he can avoid expanding his strike zone.

Long-term: Adams is the Cardinals' first baseman of the future, and while he was expected to assume every-day duties in 2013, his timetable may have just gotten accelerated. He has a good chance to to be a middle-of-the-order run producer, and an outside shot at turning into an occasional All-Star.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

15 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

rjblakel

Just wanted to drop a note to say that while I never comment on these "Call-Up" articles, I value these immensely for fantasy purposes. Thank you!

May 20, 2012 16:19 PM
rating: 10
 
mrdannyg

I also love these call-up articles. Not just for fantasy either, just as a general refresher for a guy who may or may not be moving into a prominent role with the big club. The timeliness of them is just exceptional and they've quickly become one of my favourite features.

May 20, 2012 18:53 PM
rating: 7
 
LoyalRoyal

I concur with the above comments. Question though: If they decide Craig is too injury prone for anything but 1B, who do you see them sticking with longterm? Do you feel Craig's injury issues are just one of those things or is he becoming someone that needs to be protected from injury? As always, thanks...

May 20, 2012 19:22 PM
rating: 2
 
SC

-1 for failing to use the phrase "base clogger" when describing Adams.

Also, obligatory "can he stick at C?" question for bad bodied power hitter.

May 21, 2012 06:51 AM
rating: 2
 
jasemilw4

I wouldn't worry about Craig only playing 1B at this point in his career. 2nd Base is probably not wise, but he needs to be healthy enough to play LF.

May 21, 2012 07:37 AM
rating: 0
 
sgturner65

Matt Holliday is in left field and doesn't appear to be going anywhere. Carlos Beltran is in right (knee dependent) so Craig doesn't have many places to play other than first base.

May 21, 2012 10:11 AM
rating: 0
 
CalledStrike3

Kevin, good article....if you recall - I had the UNDER on June 1st when Mash Adams made it to the Cardinal lineup.

And as a 'bad bodied' former 1st baseman and umpire .... LET THE BOY EAT !

Matty did get his ass down the line with urgency when he rolled over a low slider to the SS last night. I would spot Billy Butler 5 yards and still take Matty in a 60 yard dash.

May 21, 2012 08:23 AM
rating: 0
 
pobothecat

Came on today expressly to give you props, CS3. As I recall, your target date was May 23rd. Very nice.

Enough, even, to make me forgive you for Luis Mendoza.;)

May 21, 2012 10:01 AM
rating: 1
 
CalledStrike3

Thanks Pobo :) ... Got one right with the Adams kid....Luis Mendoza does lead the league in Human Hair (size 7 Head, size 9 Lid) and since the All Star Game is in K.C. this year - MLB has asked him to throw BP during the annual home run derby.

May 21, 2012 12:05 PM
rating: 0
 
tommybones

Adams will probably fill in until Craig comes back, then head back to AAA to play every day and probably ends up a full timer next season. Craig is the proven major league ballplayer and needs to be in the lineup every day.

May 21, 2012 14:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Behemoth

The thing is, they have the same problem next year.

May 21, 2012 15:41 PM
rating: 0
 
pobothecat

Unless, of course, he hits.

May 22, 2012 10:18 AM
rating: 0
 
pebblyjack

Adams is the third player form Slippery Rock to make the majors, including Bob Shawkey.

May 21, 2012 15:40 PM
rating: 1
 
solorpg

I like this article. Too bad it falls into that category of quick and easy content that you profess to hate in your most recent podcast. /needle

May 22, 2012 06:44 AM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

Told ya Adams would get called up, though I actually thought Beltran would go down with a knee injury first.

May 22, 2012 12:17 PM
rating: 0
 
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