Coming Soon To A Stadium Near You: Cardinals 1B Matt Adams

Mar 10, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams (87) makes a play against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. The Marlins defeated the Cardinals 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Every Monday, I will be taking a in-depth look at a prospect who could be useful to fantasy owners as soon as this year. In today's case, the player in question has already appeared out at Dodger Stadium, and could be headed toward your stadium very soon. With the injury to Lance Berkman on Saturday night, and previous injuries to Allen Craig and Jon Jay placing all of them on the disabled list, the Cardinals called up mashing 1B prospect Matt Adams.

The Basics

Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 230 lbs.
On 25-Man Roster: Yes

His History

Adams is one of those few cases where a player drafted in later rounds still manages to make it to the big leagues. He was drafted in the 23rd round by the Cardinals back in 2009, and has done nothing but hit early and hit often at every stop he has made in the minor leagues. At every single stop he has made, he has posted at least the following stats:

.300 batting average
.523 slugging percentage
.896 OPS

He's also posted 63 extra base hits in 2010 (22 homers), and 57 in 2011 (32 homers). So far in 2012, in just 37 games at AAA Memphis, he already had 19 extra base hits, including 9 home runs.

What's Stopping Him From Contributing Now?

In the short term, nothing. He was called up on Sunday, and the Cardinals started him at 1B and hit him 7th in the order. Berkman was placed on the disabled list on Sunday, so he's going to be out for at least the minimum 15 days, and Adams looks like he would get almost all of the starts until then. Adams is already making the Cardinals look good with that decision, as he had 2 hits and a run scored in last night's game.

Longer term, he may not be up to stay for the season. Based on what I've seen of scouting reports on his defense, it sounds like Adams should stick to 1B and not try to move elsewhere on the field. With that in mind, at some point Berkman is likely to return from the disabled list, and barring another injury, there is no place to play both Adams, Berkman, Carlos Beltran, and Matt Holliday all at the same time. Add in that at some point Allen Craig is likely to return also and would probably play in a similar rotation, and I would imagine that once Berkman does return Adams will be back in Memphis. With the news that Berkman could very well have a torn ACL and could miss the rest of the season (and possibly retire), we could see Adams for an extended period this season. The next player to return from the disabled list could very well be Allen Craig, and depending on how Adams is hitting, Craig could force Adams back to AAA. Either way, Adams will likely be up for at least a few weeks as they try to determine what is next for the team and for the players involved.

What Could He Do When He Gets Here to Stay?

in terms of skill set, he looks like he has all the makings of a solid fantasy first baseman. He hits for solid power, and has shown that power across multiple levels. It won't likely be elite level power, but he seems like he could post a .275-.285 batting average in the Majors and hit around 20 homers in a full season. Honestly, that would seem a bit more like his floor to me, as I could see him posting seasons where he hits around .300 with 25+ home runs, but I wouldn't anticipate that immediately upon his arrival.

The only thing I really see as a concern in Adams' stat line to this point is his slightly elevated strikeout rate in comparison to his walk rate, but it's a bit of nit picking to worry much about a strikeout rate hovering around 18% from a power hitter. He doesn't draw walks at a similar rate, but has been around 6% most seasons, so he can do that often enough to keep opposing pitchers honest. There have been concerns mentioned about his weight, as his listed weight of 230 might be a BIT low. That said, it doesn't appear to have kept him from hitting anywhere else yet, so until it does I don't plan on worrying about it.

When Does He Seem Likely to Be Up to Stay?

Based on my statements above, I could see him becoming the starting 1B for the Cardinals for the 2013 season. Berkman is only under contract through the end of this season, and I could see them letting him walk if they believe that Adams is ready for the full-time job.

Conclusions:

For me, Adams is a must-add in all deeper league formats (12+ team mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues), as he is likely to get at bats for at least the next few weeks the foreseeable future, and could potentially continue to hit at a solid pace as long as he is in the lineup. Over a full season, I think he could be a 20-25 homer bat with a solid batting average, and would definitely contemplate adding him in shallower mixed leagues if you need power for your team.

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