Not every minor league player is going to be a top prospect. With a lot of attention is paid to the top prospects in a system, it is relatively easy to overlook those players who, despite not having the pedigree or lofty draft status, may be able to contribute somewhere down the line for the major league team. Lane Adams, a former thirteenth round pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, is that type of player.
Adams has begun to climb through the Royals system at a fairly steady pace, playing at multiple levels in each of the past three seasons. His time at Wilmington during 2013, where he hit at a .276/.362/.424 rate with seven home runs and 23 stolen bases, earned him Hitter of the Year honors for the Blue Rocks and a promotion to Northwest Arkansas. Overall, Adams had a .265/.353/.415 batting line with twelve home runs and 38 stolen bases, which included his going a perfect 15-15 in stolen base attempts with the Naturals.
While it is good to see that Lane Adams has hit double digit home runs in each of the past two years, it is fair to wonder if that level of power can carry over should he reach the majors. Adams has a low line drive rate, hitting line drives in 13.9% and 12.4% respectively, when putting the ball in play over the past two seasons. He has also had a ground ball rate that has been just below league average over that time frame, which does not help him use what may be his greatest asset, his speed.
Despite the potential issues Adams may have when putting the ball in play, he has displayed a solid batting eye during his minor league tenure. Although he strikes out far more than one would want to see from a player who may be best suited trying to slap the ball around the yard, Adams has walked more than average as well. Perhaps a part of the strikeouts are due to being passive at the plate, looking for the perfect pitch to drive instead of hitting the ball where it is pitched.
Defensively, Adams has played all three outfield positions, spending most of his time in center. He has displayed a solid arm in the outfield, racking up 25 assists in his five years in the minors. With that type of an arm, and his experience playing all over the outfield, he could end up being a solid fourth outfielder in the majors.
At this point, that is exactly what Lane Adams appears to profile as, a fast fourth outfielder who could play three or four times a week and potentially slot at the bottom of the lineup as a ‘second leadoff man.’ If Adams can improve his line drive rate and cut down on the strikeouts while hitting double digit home runs, he could even force his way into consideration for a starting role in a couple of years.