This week, the hitters of the Arizona Fall League are popular topics, so let’s look next at the outfielder the Cardinals sent to Arizona and Adron Chambers.
Adron Chambers was drafted in the 38th round of the 2007 MLB draft by the Cardinals out of Pensacola Junior College. He’s a small guy at 5’10” and 180 lbs and bats left handed and can play any position in the outfield. Let’s take a look at Adron’s minor league career with the Cardinals.
After being drafted, Chambers was assigned to Johnson City as a 20 year old, the Cardinals rookie level affiliate. He didn’t play particularly well with a wOBA of only.334 in 34 games. He didn’t have a particularly good eye striking out 17.8% of the time and only walking 7.9%. His OBP was 2 points higher than his slugging%, which shows you the type of player he was when he started out. None the less, he was still a fleet of foot player who was capable of playing center field. There is some value in that, so he was moved up to Quad Cities for the next season.
A batting practice video and the rest of Chambers’ career is after the jump!
Video courtesy of Adam Foster of Project Prospect.
In 2008, Chambers played better in 95 games in Quad Cities, even though he still played a majority of his games in left field. He had the defensive side of the outfield master and his offense began to come along slowly, even though he had a career low BABIP of .285. His walks were up, but so were his strikeouts (8.6% walk and 19.6% K) and he posted a career low wOBA of .337, but his ISO was up and his slugging was finally over his OBP. The rise in slugging can be attributed to his increase in triples and 2 HRs. Chambers also began to use his speed more on the basepaths with 13 steals and 8 times caught. The next season he was promoted back to his home state of Florida with the Palm Beach Cardinals.
In his age 22 season, Chambers finally had the breakout season everyone was hoping for. He played the full season with Palm Beach and played 122 games. He posted a career best (to that point) wOBA of .361. His BABIP bounced back up to a normal level and so did his numbers. He continued to use his speed as a weapon with 16 triples and 21 stolen bases and he was only caught 12 times. However, he still struck out a lot with 21.4% of his plate appearances ending in strikeout and only 9.1% ending in a walk. But, with his increased walk percentage and a David Eckstein-like 12 HBP, his OBP vaulted to .372, which is a much better level for a top of the order hitter. In fact, Baseball Cube calls him a “Hit By Pitch Expert” as he has gotten on base via the HBP more than once every 30 at bats in his career. Adron’s big season pushed him up a level for the next season to Springfield and AA.
Chambers did not take a step back or even level off at the double-A level. He adjusted to the level in no time and was playing the best baseball of his professional life. In 75 games he had a wOBA of .362 and was playing most of his games in center field. His walks were up to over the magic 10% and his strikeouts were slightly down to under 20%. His slugging was even up due to 5 home runs when he had only hit 4 in his previous 250+ games. That level of HRs is not sustainable for Adron, but neither was his 1 HR all season in Palm Beach. Some of that also could be contributed to moving from a pitcher’s league to a hitter’s league. He had an OPS of .793 during his brief time in Springfield. His time was short because he earned a promotion in July and spent the rest of the season in AAA.
And once again, Adron was not daunted by the task of playing another level up. His OPS and SLG were down due to a lack of triples and home runs, but his numbers in general stayed strong for a wOBA of .369. His only sign of struggles with the higher level was an increased percentage of strikeouts in 26.1% of his plate appearances. His speed was as good as ever, posting a quality speed score of 7.7 with 6 steals and he was only caught once. He played most of his games in left field, but that was just the need for the Redbirds at the time. Because of that strong 2010, Chambers was sent to the Arizona Fall League. In the AFL, batted .333 and has stolen 10 bases without getting caught. He has still struck out more than he has walked, but the slugging and batting average have made the AFL a success for Chambers.
At this point, it is pretty obvious what we can expect from Chambers year to year at this point, he’s going to AVG/OBP/SLG slash line about 280/380/400 going forward and be able to play good defense in centerfield or even better defense in the corner outfield spots. The Cardinals look like they have a similar player in Jon Jay (who has slightly more power and less speed) and have centerfield locked down through Colby Rasmus. Chambers is a good player and if he could decrease his strikeouts just a little bit, he would be an even better player. A good best case comp player for Adron Chambers is Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies.