Firs tbaseman in the minors are the bane of my minor watching fun. The offensive requirements for first baseman are much higher to offset positional adjustments of playing the easier defensive position. Added to that is the reality that a lot of first baseman are poor defenders and I have a hard time getting excited about first base prospects.
The last time I was interested in a first base prospect was Brandon Buckman. . . he was cut after several years in the organization with lackluster offensive performances. Balancing the concerns of adequate offense and athletic performance (or lack there of) is a challenge. Often people err too far to the side of enjoying the power of first baseman without recognizing their shortcomings. I’m prone to the opposite. This season Matthew Adams played his first full year in the system for the Quad Cities River Bandits. Let’s see what the stats have to say.
Matt had 510 plate appearances in the Quad Cities this year compiling a slash line of .306/.351/.537. The first thing that jumps out to me is that his line reminds me of Allen Craig and several other Cardinal prospects with an on base percentage that is heavily dependent on their batting average. Adams walked 33 times this season leaving him with a meager 6.5% walk rate. He’s not a high strikeout player either as Adams does a respectable job of putting the ball in play.
Adams also hit 22 homeruns this year. That number somewhat undersells his power though has he racked up 41 doubles as well. StatCorner has Modern Woodman park as being inflationary for homeruns. The park features a deep centerfield but shorter fences down the lines so I find this believable. The overall park factors (relative to wOBA) are very slightly pitcher friendly. Adams had a strong .231 ISO.
His batted ball profile is in line with his BABIP meaning that there’s little reason to believe that he’s been getting lucky with his hits. There may be a small warning sign in the line drive percentage, which StatCorner has at 14%. That’s not very high and while his power will help him with balls that are classified as flys, the number of groundballs Adams hits has the potential to be a drag at some point.
Even with the caveats above, it’s very difficult that Adams 2010 campaign was anything short of successful. Relative to league average he was something near +20 runs on offense over 500 PAs. Adams has shown, statistically, that he can hit. There are realistic reasons to be concerned about Adams, defensive ability and conditioning being foremost and interconnected in my opinion, but 2010 was an impressive full season effort from the 2009 draftee.