The Tampa Bay Rays announced Tuesday that they have recalled shortstop Willy Adames from Triple-A Durham ahead of the club's series opener against the Red Sox. He'll make his Major League debut as the Rays' starting shortstop, batting fifth in the contest.The key return for Tampa Bay in the July
The Tampa Bay Rays announced Tuesday that they have recalled shortstop Willy Adames from Triple-A Durham ahead of the club's series opener against the Red Sox. He'll make his Major League debut as the Rays' starting shortstop, batting fifth in the contest.
The key return for Tampa Bay in the July 2014 Trade Deadline deal that sent David Price to the Tigers, the 22-year-old Adames is set to become Major League Baseball's ninth-youngest player when he takes the field Tuesday.
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The Rays' No. 2 prospect and No. 22 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100, Adames has been a model of consistency on both sides of the ball during his professional career, and especially since joining Tampa Bay's system.
Originally signed by Detroit at the outset of the 2012-13 international period, Adames was a little-known commodity when the Rays landed him as part of a three-team blockbuster with Seattle. The Dominican Republic native has since established himself as one of the more consistent prospects in the game while making a slow but impressive climb through the Minor Leagues.
Adames had a solid unspectacular first full season in Tampa Bay's system, producing a .258/.342/.379 line with 34 extra-base hits and 10 steals over 106 games at age 19 in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. He blossomed the following year at Double-A Montgomery, slashing .274/.372/.430 and setting career highs in home runs (11), doubles (31) and stolen bases (13), all while improving upon his strikeout and walk rates from the previous year. Adames garnered honors as a Southern League All-Star along the way and represented the World Team at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July.
Advancing to Triple-A for the first time in 2017, Adames nearly mirrored his batting line from the previous year by hitting .277/.360/.415 with 10 homers and 30 doubles over 130 games. He returned to the International League in 2018 and was enjoying arguably the best offensive campaign of his career, hitting .311/.387/.466 through 40 games at the time of his promotion.
More than just a consistent producer, Adames has the requisite tools and baseball acumen to become an impactful everyday shortstop, perhaps even an All-Star, in the Major Leagues.
Adames' natural hitting ability stems from a combination of plus bat speed and advanced barrel control that enables him to consistently produce hard line-drive contact across the entire field from the right side of the plate. His approach is similarly advanced, as he's long showed knowledge of the strike zone and knack for working deep counts. It has enabled Adames to coax walks at a 12.6 percent rate for his career, albeit with some steady swing-and-miss tendencies (22.9 percent strikeout rate).
Hitting for power will never be a focal point of Adames' game, but the 6-foot, 200-pounder has shown in the past two-plus seasons that he's capable of clearing his share of fences. That trend should continue as he adds strength to his athletic and projectable frame, and many scouts believe some of his doubles will eventually translate to home runs.
Overall, Adames' blend of hard contact and patient approach has led evaluators to peg him as an above-average hitter at the highest level, one capable of hitting .280+ with double-digit home runs and plenty of extra-base pop to go along with strong on-base skills.
On the other side of the ball, Adames compensates for his average speed with excellent instincts and quick feet at shortstop, where he profiles as a plus defender with soft hands, smooth footwork and plus arm strength. And while he has committed at least 20 errors at the position in four straight seasons, Adames, like many young shortstops, is likely to chip away at that total as he hones his skills and learns to better control the speed of the game.
What's more, Adames has endeared himself to Rays club officials with his outstanding makeup, as those within the organization are quick to acknowledge his leadership skills both on and off the field. They believe those qualities, along with his impressive physical tools, give him a chance to be a franchise cornerstone at a premium position.
With Adeiny Hechavarria on the 10-day DL and Joey Wendle now on the paternity list, Adames will have an immediate opportunity to make an impact in his first big league exposure. And while the glut of middle-infield talent on Tampa Bay's roster suggests that his callup could be short-lived, it's clear that the Rays are ready to see what the 22-year-old shortstop has to offer at the highest level.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.