June 21, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (53) at bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Checking In With the Top Prospects: Matt Adams

Matt Adams is a Pennsylvania native drafted in the 23rd round of the 2009 draft. He was drafted as a power-hitting first baseman, but originally had a huge roadblock by the name of Albert Pujols hindering his progress. Adams vaulted up the prospect ranking due to hitting the ball everywhere he stopped. He hit to a .980 OPS with six home runs in 32 games at Johnson City in 2009. This earned him a promotion to low A ball, where he continued to crush the ball, hitting four home runs in 31 games and putting up a .917 OPS.

Adams spent all of 2010 at A level, and he continued to show the power hitting that was earning him praise from scouts. In 121 games, Adams hit 22 home runs and finished with an .888 OPS. The Cardinals rewarded him with a promotion to Springfield to start the 2011 season. He played the duration of the season at AA and ended with 32 home runs in 115 games. He also put up a .913 OPS.

Realizing they had something, and now really needing it thanks to Pujols’s departure, the Cardinals promoted Adams to AAA Memphis. He rewarded them by hitting 18 home runs in 67 games, broken up by a major league callup. He finished the season with an .886 OPS and earned starting first base consideration next season. Adams AAA season was split up by a cup of coffee with the major league team to fill in for the injured Lance Berkman. Adams didn’t put up prodigious numbers in his short stint, but hit two home runs in 27 games.

Adams bat will play at the major league level. Power hitting is the skill with the highest risk of being sapped at the major league level, but, with more exposure to major league pitching, Adams can continue to put up the peripheral and counting numbers we’ve seen at every level. He is an interesting piece for 2013, as his stock has definitely risen thanks to his consistent performance. With Lance Berkman’s contract expiring, Adams will definitely get a long look during Spring Training with an eye towards being named the starter at first. His big competition is obvioulsly Allen Craig, but Craig could resume the super utility role he has served for the bulk of this season. Adams just missed most pundits top five prospects, but I think he jumps in next season and, if he doesn’t start the season with the major league team, will surely break onto the Cardinals roster.

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