It isn’t a huge transaction; it probably went by largely unnoticed. The Toronto Blue Jays claimed middle reliever T.J. Beam off waivers from the Pirates yesterday and designated former No. 1 draft pick Russ Adams for assignment.
Adams was originally drafted by the Jays in 2002, which was also the first draft by the organization while under control of current general manager J.P. Ricciardi, who was hired – in part – for his reputation as an excellent talent evaluator. He is also known in some circles for having a rather large ego, so it’s not surprising that the organization actually held on to Adams much longer than it should have.
Adams had a solid career at the University of North Carolina and looked like a scrappy player who would hit for average and steal a ton of bases. Unfortunately, steals were not a part of the Jays’ offensive approach at the time so that aspect of his game was almost immediately snuffed out. In his final college season, Adams hit .370 and stole 45 bases in just 63 games. He also walked 52 times with 19 strikeouts.
In his first taste of pro ball, Adams stole 18 bases and walked 42 times in 67 games between short-season ball and High-A. By 2004 he had received a brief call-up to the Majors and hit .304. Adams then spent all of 2005 at shortstop for the Jays and hit .256/.325/.383. He stole just 11 bases and his defense was shaky, due to a weak throwing arm.
During the course of the next two seasons, Adams struggled with his defence and was bounced around the diamond. His batting also suffered, no doubt in part due to his problems in the field. In 2008, he did not even sniff the Majors. Adams was left to rot in Triple-A and he played a variety of positions, including the outfield. He did not set the world on fire with his bat, but he hit .259/.341/.417 with 11 stolen bases and showed a little more pop than he had in the past with 15 home runs. In the last two seasons, his ISO has hovered around .150, which isn’t too bad for a middle infielder.
Adams needs a change of scenery. He was designated for assignment, which means if he clears waivers, Adams will remain in the system if the Jays don’t release or trade him. For his sake, and for Fantasy owners, I hope he does find his way to another organization that will give him a shot as a second baseman or a utility player. Adams could be a nice sleeper source of steals (finally free from the Toronto Stop Signs) and could even provide a little power in single leagues. His average could rebound too, with the change of scenery and outlook; his strikeouts have risen a bit with the increase in power, but he still had a walk rate of 11.2 BB% in 2008.
Obviously, you don’t want to take Adams on Draft Day. But tuck his name away and monitor the situation. If he ends up somewhere like San Diego that will give him a fair shot – and let him run – then Adams could end helping you at some point during the 2009 Fantasy Season.
With spring training almost here, it also means that Fantasy Baseball season is heating up. If you’re looking for some great advice throughout the season (as well as the pre-season), be sure to check out John Burnson’s Heater Magazine, which provides weekly statistical analysis from some of the smartest minds from across the Internet. The magazine is introducing a new, weekly feature this spring called Radar Tracking, which helps track each team’s moves and ever-changing rosters and player roles to help you prepare for the 2009 Fantasy Baseball season. Each team is being analyzed by writers and bloggers who regularly follow the clubs – quite a few FanGraphs writers have contributed to John’s projects lately. Here is a sneak peek at some of the first week’s Radar Tracking.