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Better know your Blue Jays 40-man: Riley Adams

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MLB: FEB 22 Blue Jays Photo Day Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Each year, I do a run-through of our 40-man roster around this time, looking at each player. I do it mostly for me. I’ll admit, to get it straight in my mind what I expect from each.

Riley Adams is one of five catchers on the Blue Jays 40-man roster. I should go through and check if any other team has five catchers on their 40-man, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that very few do. He is a big guy, listed at 6’4” and 235 lb. He’s 24, turns 25 in July, and is a right-handed batter. He was the Blue Jays third-round pick in the 2017 draft.

In 2019, when we last had numbers to look at, Adams spent most of the season with the Fisher Cats. He hit .258/.349/.443 with 14 home runs in 81 games. After starting the season in Dunedin, hitting .277/.434/.462 with 3 home runs in 19 games.

That helped Riley make the #15 spot on our Top 40 Prospects list (jumping from #40 in 2019). He was one spot ahead of Reese McGuire. Alejandro Kirk was eighth, and Gabriel Moreno was sixth. Matt wrote:

His strikeout walk blew out to 32% from 22% career previously, but his swinging strike rate wasn’t outrageous at 13%, so I’d expect at some some regression. The real development was Adams finally hitting for some power, as he did in college and as his frame would suggest. His 14 home runs were double his career total entering the year.

Defensively, there’s been question marks about him sticking given his 6’4” frame, but the arm is legit and having watched most games he looked fine to me behind the plate.

Ultimately, if Adams sticks behind the plate, the strikeouts shouldn’t be an issue because the bat should be plenty to profile as a regular. The risk as always been that if he moved out from the plate, there was going to be a lot of pressure on his bat in an outfield corner.

This year? The Blue Jays told us that Adams showed very well in the alternative camp, but then we have no idea if they were being honest or pumping his tires. Baseball America said that Riley was the Best Power Hitter among the Jays' prospects and said he was a ‘standout at the alternative site.’ I’m not sure if they had inside information or just going by what the Blue Jays were saying.

Keith Law put Adams number 20 on this year’s top 20 Jays prospect list but has this:

Adams looks like a quality backup catcher with patience and some pop, more than adequate behind the plate and unlikely to hit for enough average to be a regular.

Questions about whether he would hit well enough to be a regular are fair, but seeing what he does this year will give us a clue. I hate when we call catching prospects backups because most teams like ‘veteran’ players in the backup catcher role. It feels like it is limiting the chances he’ll have a major league career.

ZiPS predicts that he would hit .205/.285/.332 with 10 home runs in 376 PA if he were to play in the majors this year. PECOTA has similar numbers, .208/.285/.342.

There are a couple of questions we can ask about Adams:

Will he play any games in the majors?

Typically, if a catcher is on the 40-man roster, I’d always say that it is likely he’ll get time in the majors because catchers often get little injuries that take them out for a few games (and more chance this year is the pandemic). This question is made a little more complicated by the Taxi Squad that teams will be carrying (up to five players can be on the taxi squad, one has to be a catcher).

But we have five catchers on the 40-man, and three of them are clearly ahead of him. But then, I still think that odds are pretty good that one will be a trade, if for no other reason than free up a roster spot and cut down on the number of catchers.

I think that Reese McGuire would have to have an excellent spring to make it to April 1st on the active roster. If he doesn’t make the active roster, there would be a fair bit of pressure to move him. But McGuire might be the perfect taxi squad player.

Anyway, let’s have a poll:

Poll

Does Riley Adams play in the majors this year?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Yes
    (114 votes)
  • 70%
    No
    (268 votes)
382 votes total Vote Now

Where will Adams spend most of this coming season?

This is a more challenging than usual question.

When we last saw Adams on a regular-season baseball field, it was in a Fisher Cats jersey. With a year in between, it would be logical to expect him to start the season in Buffalo. With taxi squads, alternative sites, and later season start date levels Double-A and below, it is more than a little tough to guess what will happen with any minor league player. That said, I’d like him to get most of his playing time at Buffalo. But we have a lot of catchers and only one plate to squat behind in Buffalo.

Poll

Where will Adams spend most of 2021

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Majors
    (4 votes)
  • 74%
    Triple-A
    (279 votes)
  • 24%
    Double-A
    (91 votes)
374 votes total Vote Now