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Tampa Bay waits for Willy Adames

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The Rays top hitting prospect is finishing out the post-season in Triple-A. What can he do when he reaches the majors?

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

There was a report a few days ago that the Tampa Bay Rays were going to promote shortstop prospect Willy Adames to the major league roster. That hasn’t happened yet: the Triple-A Durham Bulls are in the International League playoffs and any promotion has been delayed until the minor league post-season is finished.

Since Adames already holds a spot on the 40-man roster, there’s no reason NOT to promote him to the majors once the Bulls finish out their campaign. What might the Rays expect?

Originally signed by the Detroit Tigers out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Adames came to the Rays organization as part of the David Price trade in the summer of 2014. He’s been a steady and consistent producer ever since, hitting .258/.342/.379 in High-A in 2015, then .274/.372/.430 in Double-A in 2016.

Adames ranked second on the pre-season Tampa Bay Rays top 20 prospects list for 2017. Here’s what we wrote at the time:

2) Willy Adames, SS, Grade B+/A-: Age 21, hit .274/.372/.430 with 31 doubles, 11 homers, 13 steals, 74 walks in 486 at-bats in Double-A, 121 strikeouts; production excellent for context (wRC+135); good feel for the strike zone and above-average power potential for a middle infielder; excellent instincts and makeup to go with tool set; lacks superior range but makes the routine plays and has a strong, accurate arm; can play shortstop in the short run, may move to second or third base eventually; bat should play at those positions if he maintains present progress; grows on you the more you see him play. Boost to A- is very possible once all prospect lists are done. ETA 2018.

He’s maintained similar production in 2017, hitting .277/.360/.414 for Durham. His wRC+ is down a bit at 119 but that’s still quite good for a 22-year-old shortstop in Triple-A.

Adames is a right-handed hitter, listed at 6-0, 200, born September 2nd, 1995. He has more power potential than many shortstops thanks to above-average bat speed. He can pull for power but will also pepper right field for the singles and the occasional home run. He’s a patient hitter and while somewhat prone to strikeouts, his walk rates are consistently high. He may not hit for high averages but should provide solid OBP and isolated power production for his position.

Defensively, Adames has a strong throwing arm and is more reliable on routine plays than most young shortstops. He’s lost some speed and a bit of range with physical maturity. He was listed at 6-0, 180 three years ago but is up to 200 now; that’s all strength and he compensates for any mobility loss with instincts, positioning, and polish. The Rays gave him some innings at second base with Durham just for the exposure but the consensus is that he can remain at shortstop, at least in the short run.

Here’s an example of opposite field power:

This video has some defensive actions worth studying.