ST. PETERSBURG -- Willy Adames is knocking on the door, and the highly touted Rays prospect should finally join The Show at some point during the 2018 season. On Wednesday, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 6 shortstop prospect in baseball.Adames, 22, came to the Rays' organization in the
ST. PETERSBURG -- Willy Adames is knocking on the door, and the highly touted Rays prospect should finally join The Show at some point during the 2018 season. On Wednesday, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the No. 6 shortstop prospect in baseball.
Adames, 22, came to the Rays' organization in the 2014 trade that sent David Price to the Tigers. He's played well at every level, and according to Tampa Bay's farm director, Mitch Lukevics, he has the "it factor."
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"Willy has it," Lukevics said. "He has the skills that make him a good player, and he has good intangibles to go along with skill. At a young age, he's accomplished quite a bit."
Early in Adames' career, scouts noted how well he competed against more advanced players. Last season, he took over as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Durham and became an International League All-Star, hitting .277 with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs in 130 games for the Bulls.
Adames is a good athlete who stands out for his excellent hands and plus arm strength at shortstop, though his average speed limits his range at the position. Some believe he'll end up at third base once he's totally filled out -- but don't count Lukevics among that group.
"He's had a good body type from Day 1," Lukevics said. "... He definitely has the talent and skill to be an everyday shortstop at the Major League level."
With Adeiny Hechavarria earmarked as the Rays' starting shortstop, Adames might not begin the season with the Rays. But there's a good chance he'll eventually find his way onto the roster, particularly if Tampa Bay decides to trade Hechavarria.
At what juncture Adames joins the team remains the question -- one that Adames has the ability to answer.
"I think the player is always going to be the first driver of that, in terms of what he does on the field will tell us when he's ready," said Chaim Bloom, the Rays' senior vice president of baseball operations. "... There are other things that play into it, obviously. So sometimes it's a balancing act, so you have lanes of opportunity for the guys that you feel are part of your future, and also so you're not putting them out there without a safety net."
Adames is the total package, according to Lukevics.
"He's fluent in English at a young age, which is a good sign of him having aptitude," Lukevics said. "And he has a great attitude to go along with the skill. That makes him the player he is.
"Like I said, he has it. He's a good teammate. He interacts with the fans very well. He's good with the media. He's just a good person, and he has that uncanny ability that he leads. He leads by who he is."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.