Fantasy Baseball 2012: Cardinals First Base Prospect Matt Adams

Before I get to my analysis of St. Louis Cardinals first base prospect Matt Adams, I want to let everyone know that Jason Hunt and I have begun ranking our 2012 Top Fantasy Prospects at each position over at Fake Teams. I published my Top Fantasy Catcher Prospects for 2012 on Monday, and will publsh my Top Fantasy First Base Prospects for 2012 on Tuesday. Jason will follow these with his rankings for Third Base and Shortsop on Wednesday and Thursday.

Everyone knows at this point that the Cardinals decided that not signing Albert Pujols was in the best interest of the ballclub and will go with Lance Berkman at first base this season. Berkman is signed through 2012 at the cost of $12 million, but assuming the Cardinals allow him to leave via free agency after the season, the Cardinals will have a hole to fill at first base next offseason.

That hole may be filled with first base prospect Matt Adams. More on Adams after the jump:

Adams was drafted by the Cardinals in the 23rd round of the 2009 MLB draft, and he quickly showed he has a solid bat by hitting .355-.400-.547 in 245 at bats in Rookie leagues. John published his Top 20 Cardinals Prospects for 2012 recently, and here are his thoughts on Adams:

11) Matt Adams, 1B, Grade B: Could get a crack at first base job if Pujols leaves town. Power is real, but we'll have to see about the batting average and OBP.

John wrote this in mid-October before the Cardinals won the World Series and before Albert Pujols stunned many by signing with the Angels. But, I agree with John as Adams now has a pretty good shot at seeing some time at first base as soon as 2012.

Here is what Keith Law had to say about Adams in a recent chat:

Pierce (Tulsa, OK)

I've spoken with several scouts who are very impressed by Matt Adams's power? Do you really see him being more than an org player?

Klaw
(5:16 PM)

I do - had him 8th in their system before the season. Good for STL for pushing him to an age-appropriate level.

Law mentioned in another chat that Adams is more than an everyday guy due to hit hit and power tool, but would like to see him walk more. I understand where he is coming from, as he walked in just under 8% of his at bats in 2011, but he also doesn't strike out a ton either. Adams struck out in 17.5% of his at bats in 2011 and maintained a slugging percentage over .500 for the third year in a row.

Here are Adams career minor league stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Year Age Lev G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2009 20 A--Rk 63 245 31 87 17 0 10 52 20 41 .355 .400 .547 .947 134
2009 20 Rk 32 115 15 42 6 0 6 25 9 20 .365 .406 .574 .980 66
2009 20 A- 31 130 16 45 11 0 4 27 11 21 .346 .394 .523 .917 68
2010 21 A 121 464 71 144 41 0 22 88 33 78 .310 .355 .541 .896 251
2011 22 AA 115 463 80 139 23 2 32 101 40 90 .300 .357 .566 .923 262
3 Seasons 299 1172 182 370 81 2 64 241 93 209 .316 .365 .552 .917 647
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/18/2011.

What jumps out at me in analyzing Adams minor league stats is that he has maintained the excellent power production even as he moved up to AA in 2011. He increased his home run total from 22 to 32, as his doubles power started clearing more fences in 2011. As you can see his doubles dropped from 41 in 2010 to 23 in 2011, but the drop is justified due to the increase in the home run total.

One thing to note regarding the stats table above is that B-R states he is 22 years old, but he turned 23 on August 31, so it appears B-R reflects how old a player is at the beginning of the season, rather than at the end of the season. As a result, Adams will start his age 23 season at AAA and could get a call up at some point in 2012.

Matthew Leach, MLB beat reporter for the Cardinals, recently addressed Adams future in his blog after the Pujols news came out:

* What does this mean for Matt Adams?

Not a lot just yet, I’d say. If they sign somebody for multiple years to play 1B or the outfield, that might change. Craig is going to play, so if they were to sign an outfielder for 3 years or something, clearly moving Craig to first base (for example), that might block Adams. But for now, Adams’ ETA was never any sooner than Sept. of 2012 anyway, and Lance Berkman is only on a one-year deal.

I agree with Leach to a point, as the Cardinals, as their roster is constructed right now, may need a first baseman should Berkman suffer an injury during the season. Berkman isn't getting any younger, so he is a injury risk, and Adams may get an earlier call up than Leach expects should Berkman get injured.

What do Minor League Ball readers think of Adams chances in 2012?

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