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Meet: Jason Adam

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Want to know more about the prospect with two first names, who is coming to Minnesota in return for Josh Willingham?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the fifth pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, the Royals have selected Jason Adam, a local prospect out of Blue Valley Northwest. Adam is 6′ 4″ and around 225 with a blazing fastball. He was named a 2009 East Kansas League All-Star and a 2009 All Sun Baseball Team honorable mention last season. He has a lot of room to grow and can improve his power dramatically over the next couple of seasons in the minors. The consensus amongst most baseball scouts was that Adam would be a second round selection, so the Royals may have caught a huge break by him falling to the fifth round and can get him to sign.
- Bob Stalder, Pine Par Press, June 2010 -

The fifth round of the 2010 draft is the same round in which the Mariners selected current Twin Stephen Pryor, and the Twins themselves picked the recently cut Nate Roberts. Five players from the round have made appearances in the Major Leagues, although none have made a true impact. That includes Jason Adam, who was just getting his first taste of Triple-A at age 23.

As an 18-year old out of Blue Valley Northwest High School in Kansas, Adam was drafted by the team he'd been a fan of his entire life. He would debut for Kansas City's A-ball affiliate in 2011, starting 21 games and posting a 4.23 ERA in 104.1 innings. Later that autumn, in the Arizona Fall League, Adam blew up...in a good way. Scouts were glowing over his 98 mph fastball and his curveball. But those reports hadn't extended to his performance for Kane County, where his fastball sat in the upper 80s and lower 90s.

Still, in 2012 he stopped impressing some of the people and started impressing all of the people. He made 27 starts for High-A Wilmington, striking out 19% of opposing batters and walking just 5.6%. His 3.53 ERA in 158 innings, as a 20-year old, pushed him onto all of the organizational prospect lists before the 2013 season: #7 for Keith Law, #9 for FanGraphs, #10 for Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, #11 for MLB.com and John Sickels, and #12 at SB Nation Royals site Royals Review.

Adam spent all of 2013 at Double-A, where he struggled. It was almost an issue where he was great or positively terrible. From April through August, his monthly ERAs last year were 12.84 (20 IP), 3.09 (32), 2.97 (30), 7.52 (26), and 2.83 (35). It's a microcosm of his scouting reports: when he gets inside his own head and the mechanics break down, he looks awful. When he gets extension his fastball suddenly starts sinking and the breaking ball buckles knees. For any coaching staff that wants to get the best out of Jason Adam, they need to solve his mechanical issues.

His inconsistent performance has continued into 2014, where the Royals promoted him to Triple-A in spite of his performance. Adam was dropped from the rotation, however, and made all eight of his appearances out of Omaha's bullpen. The strikeout and walk rates didn't change too much in the small sample size, but there's further evidence that in shorter stints the velocity ticks upward. It doesn't do any good, though, if the mechanics don't get sorted out.

The Twins will send Adam back to Double-A, where he will return to the starting rotation. Coming into 2014, Baseball America still rated him as Kansas City's ninth-best prospect, and he came in at number 15 on their list of Top 15 Players 25 or Under.

Adam's stuff is universally acknowledged to be "solid-average", with both the fastball and slider ahead of the curve and the change. All pitches would play up, if anyone can get him to consistently repeat his delivery. But should that not happen then not only are his future prospects iffy at best, but with a fastball that goes flat and two pitches that might not be able to get Double or Triple-A hitters out he may not get any closer to the big league team than he already is.

Having just turned 23, Adams is an interesting return for Josh Willingham. He's young enough for the upside to still be there, and scouts have seen it. It will take work, though, and that's the challenge. The Twins have become a bit notorious in recent years for being unable to fix mechanical issues in pitchers (Francisco Liriano and Vance Worley come to mind), but it's also worth noting that you don't hear when mechanical issues are solved.

Welcome to Minnesota, man-with-two-first-names. Do well.

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