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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 7: Micker Adolfo

Injuries threaten to derail a true gem unearthed by Marco Paddy

Chicago White Sox Photo Day
Injury bug: The White Sox desperately need to vaccinate Adolfo against whatever it is that keeps messing with his right elbow.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

Micker Adolfo
200 pounds
Bats: Right
Age: 22
2018 SSS Top Prospect ranking: 10
SSS rank among all right fielders in the system: 1

Adolfo was quite the coveted international prospect in 2013, as and Baseball America ranked him second and ninth respectively prior to International Signing Day. The White Sox signed the 16-year-old outfielder to a $1.6 million bonus. Special assistant to the GM Marco Paddy stated at the time of the signing, “He is a special kid. In my 21-year career, I had never seen in a player what I’ve seen in Micker, and that is due to the mental approach that makes him special. He has an understanding of what he is doing, what he needs to improve and how to go about it.” It also didn’t hurt that Adolfo displayed prodigious power, a cannon of an arm, and good defensive ability.

However, progress for Adolfo didn’t come as easily (or quickly) as originally expected. In his first three years with the AZL Sox and Kannapolis, he combined to slash just .225/.282/.356 in 525 at-bats, with 28 doubles, four triples, 11 homers, 54 RBIs, 35 walks (6.10%), and 206 strikeouts (35.89%).

The struggles had a lot to do with learning a new culture, understanding the speed of the game, and injuries (breaking his leg in 2015 on a slide into home plate, fracturing the hook of his hamate bone in 2016). Although he did appear for short stays on the DL twice in 2017, Adolfo finally broke out by slashing .264/.331/.453 in 424 at-bats, with 28 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, 68 RBIs, 31 walks (6.55%) and 149 strikeouts (31.50%). While the walks and strikeouts weren’t great, they were improvements nonetheless, and his 46 extra-base-hits (along with an improvement in his slashing averages) definitely showed signs of good things to come. In order to prevent teams like the San Diego Padres from selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, Adolfo was added to the 40-man roster during the offseason.

The 2018 season didn’t start off so well for Adolfo. He was diagnosed with a torn flexor muscle and a strained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow during spring training. However, he got the green light from doctors to play for Winston-Salem as a DH, because swinging the bat wasn’t expected to cause further damage. As a result, Adolfo had his best season to date by slashing .282/.369/.464 in 291 at-bats, with 18 doubles one triple, 11 homers, 50 RBIs, 34 walks (10.12%) and 92 strikeouts (27.28%). The White Sox ultimately shut him down in July so he could get Tommy John surgery in time to be ready for 2019.

According to MLB Pipeline, Adolfo’s tools all rank 50 or better, with the exception of hitting (45). His arm grades 70, power 55, running and fielding 50. On the positive side, Adolfo’s walks have risen while his whiffs have decreased; thus, with a improvement in all areas of his slash line, it’s conceivable his hitting could eventually move up to 50.

Since Adolfo had just two options left as a result of being placed on the 40-Man roster in 2017 while still on the Kannapolis roster, Adolfo got an aggressive assignment to Birmingham for 2019 (he is 1.7 years younger than the average age in the Southern League). Adolfo played in 23 games at DH, with designs to return to the field once his throwing rehab program was completed. Adolfo hit .205/.337/.298, and related to an utter loss of offensive power in his first few weeks or not, succumbed to arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow a couple of weeks ago and will miss the rest of the 2019 season.

Take a look!

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