Last night Matt Adams pelted his 29th and 30th homeruns to first tie and then exceed the record set by Colby Rasmus in 2007. I’ve written about Adams with some frequency here and I think it’s safe to say that he’s a controversial prospect among readers.
Adams jumped two levels from a full year in Quad Cities to spend the full season in Springfield. Admittedly, Springfield is a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league but there’s little argument that Adams is having a heck of a year. With 30 HRs and an ISO hovering near .300, Adams is a legitimate first base prospect — probably the best one the Cardinals have had since Albert Pujols.
To some extent, that’s faint praise. Prior to Adams, one of the “premier” first base prospects was Mark Hamilton who few people expected to be a real force in the majors if he ever made it there. Adams is unquestionably the best power prospect in the system and probably is a tick better in that regard than former top power prospect Allen Craig (who, if it hasn’t been apparent for the last three years, I’m a big fan of).
Springfield and AA is often thought as the biggest single level jump in competition for prospects. Pitchers have better command and more advanced breaking pitches than their lower minors counterparts. The defense is generally better as some of the players without positions have been filtered out of the systems. The hitters are more patient at the plate and better able to foul off pitches or punish mistakes. Pitcher or position player, AA is a huge test for prospects.
Matt Adams, Springfield record holder, has passed that test this year. Some minor injuries and crowded Memphis squad have held the big slugger in AA despite his prodigious offensive numbers. There are still aspects to Adams’ game that will need improvement: conditioning, defense and plate discipline. Acknowledging weaknesses doesn’t dilute the fact that Adams has significant strengths as well; primarily, his ability to punish the ball with a powerful swing.
Matt Adams is unlikely to be the next Albert Pujols. Comparisons of that nature are markedly unfair to both players. Given his 2011 performance, however, Adams’ projection looks less like whether he’ll make the majors and more about just how good he can be in the majors.
But for now, for today, it’s enough to just enjoy the fact that one of the Cardinals’ prospects hit 30 HRs in the minors. Enjoy that for the remarkable feat that it is, in and of itself. Congrats to Matt on his impressive accomplishment.