As part of their increased investment in the draft, the Royals also tried to spend more time scouting their own backyard. Over the years, they’ve used high round draft picks on players like Tim Melville (from Wentzville, Missouri), Aaron Crow (from Topeka, KS and the University of Missouri) and in 2011, Bubba Starling of Gardner, Kansas.
In 2010, they used a fifth round pick on Blue Valley Northwest senior Jason Adam.
It took a healthy bonus of $800,000 to lure him away from a Mizzou scholarship, but once they got him in tow, he was hitting 94-95 with his fastball in instructionals, touching 98 on occasion.
Because he signed right at the deadline, he didn’t see official game action at all in 2010 and started 2011 in rookie camp before making his debut for Kane County in Low A on May 17. In his second start with the Cougars, he held Beloit scoreless over eight innings, striking out six and walking none. Over the course of the year, he made 21 starts and walked more than two batters in just one of those.
Along with the fastball befitting a 6’4″ 220 pound kid, he has good command of a curveball that could become a plus pitch as he develops. Baseball America calls his changeup “more of an idea than a useable pitch at this point.”
Adam turned 20 on August 4 and pitched well in Low A, compiling 104.1 innings pitched with a 4.23 ERA. Over that span, he induced ground balls 45% of the time with a 6.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Overall, he had a 1.141 WHIP on the season.
The Royals managed his workload as the season went on. After throwing six innings or more in four of his first six starts, he reached six innings only one more time, often going five innings before being pulled.
In setting up the Kings of Kauffman prospect rankings last February, I held Adam back a bit in favor of others who had some experience in official games. High school pitchers can often struggle right away and sometimes flame out, so that was overly cautious on my part. Adam’s stock has risen after his solid initial season. He’s going to see some time in Wilmington at High A this season, either to start the year or shortly after. The Royals will continue to monitor his workload and work on his secondary pitches, but there’s no reason why Adam shouldn’t be among the Royals top ten prospects to start 2012.