Austin Adams One Step Away From Major League Debut
(Originally published on January 17, 2014)
In order to avoid exposing Austin Adams to the Rule 5 draft the Cleveland Indians added him to their 40-man roster – a move which puts him one step away from the major leagues.
Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 27th round of the 2008 as a shortstop he opted to return to school and was drafted by the Tribe in the 5th round the following season as a reliever.
While playing at NAIA Faulkner State College he started games at shortstop and finished as a reliever going 0-2 with 12 saves and a 3.00 ERA in 24 games covering 20 innings.
At the time of the draft Indians Farm Director Brad Grant told Jordan Bastian of Indians.com “Our area scout, Chuck Bartlett, has a very good feel for Adam. He feels if you put this guy in the right role, he has a chance to excel. We’re going to put him in a bullpen role and hope that his power plays up in a bullpen role.”
After signing for $70,000 Austin Adams reported to the Indians low-A affiliate Mahoning Valley scrappers where he went 3-1 with a 4.38 ERA covering 17 appearances (3o innings).
He began the year in 2010 with the Indians Class A affiliate Lake County Captains in a new role as a starting pitcher. He appeared in 13 games but the shortest outing was 3 innings. After posting a 2-4 record with a 3.54 and an impressive 10.3 K/9 and moderate 3.5 BB/9 he was promoted to High A Kinston.
Adams finished the season with Kinston by appearing in 13 games (12 starts) and went 6-1 with a 1.53 ERA but his strikeout rate dipped to 7.8 K/9 but his walk rate dropped to 2.3 BB/9.
Overall, his first year as a starting pitcher can only be described as a successful transition from the bullpen. Between Lake County and Kinston he appeared in 26 games (20 starts) posting a 8-5 record with a 2.49 ERA.
Adams spent the 2011 season with the Indians Double-A affiliate Akron Aeros and made 26 starts delivering 136 innings posting a record of 11-10 with a 3.77 ERA. He struck out nearly a batter an inning (8.7 K/9) but struggled with command with a walk rate of 4.2 BB/9.
Unfortunately, the successful transition was short circuited in spring training of 2012 when he started to experience stiffness in his right shoulder. When the rest of his teammates departed to start the minor league season he stayed back in extended spring training eventually having shoulder surgery in May.
After missing the 2013 season he returned to the more familiar role as a reliever for the Aeros appearing in 45 games (55 innings) posting a 3-2 record with a 2.62 ERA striking out over a hitter an inning (12.4 K/9) but did struggle with his command (4.7 BB/9).
After his successful 2013 return he finds his name once again on the Indians Organization’s Top 10 Prospect List coming in at #10:
The high-90s velocity he showed before his injury has come all the way back, and he pitched with his fastball at 95-97 mph with cutting action. Adams still has the depth to his repertoire from his days as a starter. His curveball and changeup have the best chances to be quality offerings from among his secondary pitches, and he can mix in an early-count slider as well. (Baseball America $$)
The 27-year-old will most likely begin the season with the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and if he continues to progress and the team has a need Austin Adams may find himself making his major league debut in 2014.