Earlier this week, the Chicago White Sox announced that outfield prospect Micker Adolfo needed Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. A few days before the announcement, I received this email about Adolfo:
“Micker Adolfo, real breakout or not?”—-S.P. from Toronto
Let’s take a look.
The White Sox signed Adolfo out of the Dominican Republic back in 2013 for $1,600,000. He spent two seasons in the Arizona Rookie League with mediocre results then hit just .219/.269/.340 in 247 at-bats in Low-A in 2016.
Adolfo turned things around in 2017, hitting .264/.331/.453 with 16 homers in Low-A, thanks to some swing adjustments, physical maturity, and a slight but noticeable improvement in his batting eye.
Adolfo ranked 12th on the Chicago White Sox Top 20 prospects for 2018 list with this comment:
12) Micker Adolfo, OF, Grade C+: Age 21, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2013, hit .264/.331/.453 with 16 homer, 31 walks, 149 strikeouts in 424 at-bats in Low-A; would rank higher on pure tools alone, notably 60-grade raw power and a 65 or 70 throwing arm; made progress getting his swing in gear in ’17 and boosted his SLG by 100 points but still has some issues with strikeouts/pitch recognition; high-ceiling power bat but still unclear if he will handle advanced pitching; ETA 2021.
The elbow problem limited Adolfo to DH duty this season but he continued to progress with the bat, hitting .283/.368/.466 with High-A Winston-Salem, contributing 11 homers and 33 walks albeit with 91 strikeouts in 290 at-bats.
Of course he’s shut down with the surgery now but Carolina League observers saw enough to back up what the numbers indicate: his raw power is manifesting more and more often as in-game power.
At age 21, that’s a trend that should continue given proper surgery recovery. That said, contact against advanced pitching remains a question so we still don’t know what his batting average and OBP are going to look like. Additionally, his throwing arm was as impressive as his raw power pre-injury and we’ll have to see if that changes post-injury.
Overall I see Adolfo as a B- prospect right now: he has an impressive ceiling and positive signs for reaching that ceiling are increasing, but there’s still considerable uncertainty that we can’t resolve until he comes back from surgery next year.