The World Baseball Classic will allow the New York Yankees to get good, long glimpses of some of their prospects, most notably Austin Romine and David Adams who each figure to get plenty of playing time in spring training with Francisco Cervelli and Robinson Cano both off representing their countries.
Adams, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the third round of the 2008 MLB Draft and has intrigued the Yankees with his bat but has had issues staying healthy. Because of his injury history the Yankees have been cautious with Adams’ development and he has yet to play above AA. However, the Yankees began playing Adams at third in the hopes of possibly finding a spot for him on the Major League squad soon.
Adams could be an option for the Yankees as a utility infielder, someone who can play second, third, and probably some first base in a pinch. Adams could battle Eduardo Nunez for the role of utility infielder or, if the Yankees are still dead set on leaving Nunez as a shortstop, could win the job outright depending on his spring performance.
Adams is a gap hitter who uses all fields. He does have some power but I don’t think he will hit more than 10 homers in a season. He can knock doubles all day and can spray line-drive singles all over the field and hit for average. However, he doesn’t have much speed and although his defense is good it won’t win any awards.
Adams’ biggest competition, aside from his own health, will be from Corban Joseph, Dan Johnson, and Russ Canzler. However, the Yankees think Adams can be more at the plate than Joseph and would rather invest the roster spot in Adams if he does well this spring rather than an aging veteran like Johnson or limited upside player like Canzler.
The last time the World Baseball Classic rolled around the Yankees gave a lot of playing time to a shortstop name Ramiro Pena who had never played above AA. Pena ended up breaking camp with the Yankees so the precedent is there for the Yankees to skip a player over AAA if they think he can contribute. There is no reason to think Adams couldn’t replace Eric Chavez as a backup third baseman who can spell Cano when needed. Although he has no experience in the outfield or at first I think he could handle a corner outfield spot or first in a pinch as well.
It will be up to Adams to make the most of the opportunities handed him this spring and will be one of the players to keep an eye on.