Elite Option Rising: Could The Rays’ Willy Adames Emerge As A Top SS In 2020?


The Rays acquired Willy Adames as part of the trade sending David Price to Detroit at the 2014 Trade Deadline.  At the time of his acquisition Adames was viewed as the prize of the deal, and while he ultimately emerged as one of the elite prospects in the game the early results at the highest level have been modest.  That’s not to say they were bad, but these marks in his first full season in the Majors won’t blow you away:

531 At Bats
.254 Batting Average (135 Hits)
20 Home Runs
52 RBI
69 Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.317 On Base Percentage
.418 Slugging Percentage
.320 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The average was mediocre, though he took a significant step forward in the second half (.237 in the first half, jumping to .278 in the second).  It would appear that the spike is highly believable, considering these metrics all season long:

  • Hard% – 42.1%
  • Oppo% – 25.9%
  • Fly Ball Rate – 30.3%
  • SwStr% – 11.4%
  • O-Swing% – 27.5%

So Adames hits the ball hard, uses the entire field and doesn’t take a fly ball heavy approach.  Clearly he’s not a sub-.250 hitter, especially with the power he showed, and the fact that he improved his approach in the second half only helps to strengthen the cause.  Just look at the Whiff% from July 1 moving forward:

  • Hard – 10.10%
  • Breaking – 14.11%
  • Offspeed – 12.88%

His strikeout rate was 23.9% overall in the second half, but he was even better than that in August (22.5%) and September (20.5%).  Maintaining the improvement, along with the other metrics, would cement him as a strong average option.

Obviously things would look better if he offered some speed, though that’s never going to be a true strength in his game.  Instead the key is going to come from his power, and whether or not he can take another step forward after he had 46 total extra base hits a year ago (25 doubles, 1 triple and 20 HR).  He showed a surge in the second half, with 10 HR coming courtesy of an 18.2% HR/FB, and at 24-years old is it a stretch to think that another step is coming?

Prior to the 2018 season Prospect 361 had this to say about Adames and his power:

Adames is just starting to tap into his potential.  He has plus bat speed and enough physicality that should allow him to hit for plus in-game power.  That said, the power has yet to show up but he just turned 22-years-old, so some patience needs to be exercised.

While there may not be another significant step forward, could Adames at least be a .260ish hitter with 25+ HR?  Could he be even more, reaching the 30 HR plateau?  While he’s not a can’t miss, he has room to grow and emerge as a must start option and potentially find his way into the Top 10 at the position.  This could be your last chance to buy him at a discount, so kick the tires and see what’s out there.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Prospect 361

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

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PositionLast Updated
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Third Baseman04/20/20


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