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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 29: Spencer Adams

As opportunities arise with the big club, the young righthander is struggling to find his footing (and role) in Charlotte

Rough start: Adams, currently on the IL with a back injury, has been hit hard so far in 2019.
Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights

Spencer Adams
171 pounds
Throws: Right
Age: 23
2018 SSS Top Prospect rank: 13
SSS rank among all right-handed starting pitchers in the system: 8

Adams, a native of Cleveland, Ga., was the 15th-ranked prep prospect eligible for the 2014 draft according to PerfectGame. It didn’t hurt that he posted a 0.72 ERA, .129 OBA, 13.89 K/9 for White County H.S. while possessing a 92-96 mph fastball, hard slider, and improving changeup. When he fell to the White Sox in the second round as the 44th overall pick, the White Sox happily selected him, in large part due to his high upside. Adams bypassed his verbal commitment with Georgia to sign for a nearly $1.3 million bonus. He pitched for the AZL Sox that year and posted an incredible 14.75 K/BB ratio.

From 2015-17, Adams moved up the system from Kannapolis to Birmingham, consistently allowing a .275-.281 OBA with few strikeouts, but limiting damage due to his exceptional control. Adams returned to Birmingham to begin 2018, but surprisingly struggled with a 4.59 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over 68 23 innings — allowing 80 hits (.290 OBA) and 20 walks (2.62 BB/9) while striking out 53 hitters (6.95 K/9). After finally kicking it in gear in late May and early June, ceding just one run in his last 13 innings, Adams finally earned a long-awaited promotion to Charlotte.

Adams had a strange season for the Knights. In 15 starts totaling 90 13 innings against Triple-A competition, he actually posted a credible 3.19 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. What’s particularly interesting is that he limited International League hitters to just 82 hits (a career-best .248 OBA) but walked 38 hitters (a career-worst 3.79 BB/9) compared to just 42 strikeouts (a career-worst 4.18 K.9). He also allowed more fly balls than grounders, usually a recipe for disaster for a control pitcher.

With more innings under his belt, Adams’ four-seam fastball peaks around 94 mph, while his two-seamer runs 88-92; he still features a slider, which is more set-up than put-away pitch. His changeup simply hasn’t improved as originally hoped — against lefties this year, he posted a .297 OBA and 1.73 WHIP; versus righties, he posted a .238 OBA and 1.07 WHIP.

Adams is still quite young, and hope remains that he can be something more than a long reliever. However, his inability to miss bats is a concern. His two biggest issues are putting hitters away and limiting damage against lefties. Despite his youth, Adams has fallen in White Sox prospect rankings as he’s hit a wall in Charlotte.

With the Knights in 2019, Adams has pitched in a swingman role, with three starts and two relief appearances. In he’s sporting an 8.00 ERA in 18 innings, with a 2.389 WHIP. He’s currently on the seven-day IL with back spasms.

Take a look!

Video courtesy of FanGraphs.

2019 South Side Sox Top 100 Prospects

25. Bryce Bush, 3B
29. Spencer Adams, RHSP
30. Lenyn Sosa, SS
31. Ryan Burr, RHRP
32. Lincoln Henzman, RHSP
33. Caleb Frare, LHRP
34. José Ruiz, RHRP
35. Lency Delgado, SS
36. Zach Thompson, RHRP
37. Camilo Quinteiro, 2B
38. A.J. Puckett, RHSP
39. Amado Nuñez, 2B
40. Jordan Guerrero, LHSP
41. Tyler Frost, RF
42. Danny Mendick, SS
43. Yeyson Yrizarri, SS
44. Kade McClure, RHSP
45. Luis Mieses, CF
46. Ti’quan Forbes, 3B
47. Thyago Vieira, RHRP
48. Corey Zangari, 1B
49. Yermin Mercedes, C
50. Anderson Comas, RF
51. Gunnar Troutwine, C
52. Codi Heuer, RHSP
53. Andrew Perez, LHRP
54. Josue Guerrero, LF
55. Jacob Lindgren, LHRP
56. Ryan Cordell, CF
57. Joel Booker, LF
58. Bennett Sousa, LHRP
59. Blake Battenfield, RHSP
60. Caberea Weaver, CF
61. Matt Foster, RHRP
62. Tate Blackman, 2B
63. Hunter Schryver, LHRP
64. Romy González, CF
65. Carlos Perez, C
66. Trey Michalczewski, 3B
67. Taylor Varnell, LHSP
68. John Parke, LHSP
69. Mike Morrison, RHRP
70. Zach Remillard, 3B
71. Luis Martinez, RHSP
72. Zach Lewis, RHSP
73. José Nin, RHRP
74. Colton Turner, LHSP
75. Jhoandro Alfonso, C
76. Ramon Beltre, 2B
77. Charlie Tilson, CF
78. Hunter Kiel, RHRP
79. Jason Bilous, RHSP
80. Nick Johnson, RHRP
81. Danny Dopico, RHRP
82. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
83. Logan Sowers, RF
84. Maiker Feliz, 3B
85. Brayan Herrera, RHSP
86. Craig Dedelow, LF
87. Wilber Pérez, RHSP
88. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
89. Johan Dominguez, RHRP
90. Mitch Roman, 2B
91. Ty Greene, C
92. Tanner Banks, LHSP
93. Jake Elliott, RHRP
94. Kevin Escorcia, LHRP
95. Luis Rodriguez, RHSP
96. Ian Dawkins, LF
97. Victor Diaz, RHRP
98. Travis Moniot, LF
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Brian Clark, LHRP

More information on South Side Top Prospects.