There’s a human element to baseball that usually succumbs to the business side of the game. No surprise there. But, no one knows that better than the 125 men who occupy a roster position on the Yankees five minor league teams. This column explores whether the organization is doing its best to fulfill the hopes and dreams for each of these players.
From the highest rated prospect in their minor league system (Jim Callis of MLB.com says it’s Estevan Florial) to the lowest ranked, one thing is exact about all of them. At some point in time, someone in the Yankees organization saw the fledglings of talent that could make them a New York Yankee in the future.
From Single-A Tampa to Triple-A Scranton, each player was signed to a minor league contract after competing with thousands of others at the American high school and college levels during the annual draft (June 11 is the next one), plus a few came to the Yankees via the International Draft.
But no matter where they came from and how long they’ve been wearing the pinstripes, they are still laboring in Staten Island, or Trenton…and not Yankees Stadium. As we know, only 25 players can dress in the Yankees clubhouse at any given time, save for September when the rosters expand. And we take that as a given.
Nevertheless, I tend to view the Yankee’s minor league system as a group of young men who have been adopted into the Yankee’s family. As such, the organization is responsible for their care throughout their association with the team. The development of each player’s talent and growth as a person, once the reason for their signing, must be fulfilled by the Yankees, or any team with a farm system.
With more than 100 players to deal with on a daily basis and only so many coaches and support personnel to go around, it’s a mighty task to ask of any team, and in particular, the Yankees who have a wealth of superior talent at various levels of their system, to “develop” and move up the vast majority of these players.
But it seems to me that once in a while, the Yankees are grossly remiss when it comes to the development of one player over another. Put it another way; they play favorites. So I ask this question – are the Yankees being fair with the manner in which they are treating Chance Adams (I’ll explain), as opposed to the treatment they’ve given Gleyber Torres, Greg Bird, and Miguel Andujar?
Using Torres as an example, the Yankees and in particular, Brian Cashman, had a precise plan regarding Gleyber Torres from the moment he was stolen from the Chicago Cubs in a deal for Aroldis Chapman. It was choreographed so beautifully, right down to the moment he could be brought up to the Yankees saving an extra year control, despite numerous and unending pleas from the Yankees faithful to bring Torres up sooner.
And we now are seeing the vine bear fruit, as if anyone is surprised. But what about a player like Chance Adams? Torres was given a plan to follow. Do this, do that. Work on this, work on that. To what extent have the Yankees worked on developing a similar plan for Adams since he was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 5th round of the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft from Dallas Baptist University?
Has Adams been given clear direction by the Yankees as to what they need from him? Or, as I suspect, is he fumbling in the dark trying everything that he “thinks” they want from him?
Through four seasons in the Yankees organization, with the last two at the Triple-A level, Adams has fostered a record of 32-9 with a 2.77 ERA. With most organizations, Adams would at least (at this point) been given a chance to prove himself as a starter at the major league level. Not so, though, with the Yankees.
There was talk during the offseason of the Yankees converting Adams to a reliever. All talk, no action. So, Adams continues to pitch, not so successfully (1-2, 5.93 ERA for the Railriders) this season. Undoubtedly, Adams holds some of the responsibility for his showing thus far in 2018, but not all. Because after four seasons, the Yankees owe Adams (and others) an answer as to whether or not he fits into their plans for the future.
Pointedly, Chance Adams is one of those pitchers who does not light up the radar gun. Which in this day of baseball automatically puts him at a disadvantage. Adams could have been Jordan Montgomery, though, who on a fateful day in spring training in 2017 was “noticed” by then Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, because Girardi liked the way Montgomery “carried” himself on the mound. Both Adams and Montgomery have similar stuff, but one is in while the other remains out, and the rest brings us to where we are now.
This is not an advertisement for Chance Adams. But it is an attempt to call into question the morality (suspect word to use, I know) of the Yankees stockpiling of prospects (good business) versus the reality that a professional ballplayer has a definitive lifespan, always governed by age. Time cannot be reversed.
So you take an Adams and add Florial, Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, Justus Sheffield, all the way down to Thairo Estrada and Giovanny Gallegos, and all the way down from there to players who have yet to hit the radar screen like Dermis Garcia, a top power hitter in the organization, and you have to ask yourself, what is the “Gleyber Torres Plan” for each of these players.
Chance Adams, given the “love” he is receiving from the team, has as much chance to crack the Yankees starting rotation as I do. So why keep him? The trade deadline offers an opportunity for Brian Cashman to clean house by bringing in not one, but two, much needed top-flight starters at the trade deadline, or sooner, with the quest continued in preparation for the 2019 season.
The Yankees have reaped the rewards of having bragging rights for having one of the best farm systems in baseball. But, so what? Championships are won at Yankee Stadium, not in Trenton, New Jersey. In gambling, they call it a rollover, which is when you take your winnings and go all in to reach another goal.
This organization needs a rollover, not only to benefit the Yankees, who have needs at the major league level but also to release some of this talent (players) from the quagmire they find themselves in with nowhere to go and careers on the line.