Hillsboro, Oregon —— Entering play on Wednesday night, Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect Riley Adams is slashing .305/.364/.450/.814 over 33 games with the Northwest League‘s Vancouver Canadians, with 13 doubles, two home runs, nine walks, and 31 strikeouts over his first 131 at-bats as a pro. I observed the University of San Diego product in the first week of August on the road at Hillsboro; below is Baseball Census‘ full Riley Adams scouting report, including several videos.
Riley Adams Scouting Report — Video
Our first video of Toronto Blue Jays catching prospect Riley Adams shows his at-bats across several different games last week against the Hillsboro Hops at Ron Tonkin Field:
And our second Riley Adams video shows his work behind the plate defensively as a catcher in one of those games in Hillsboro—blocking, receiving, framing, throwing, and more:
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Riley Adams Scouting Report — Notes
Well-balanced at the plate with good contact skills and an idea of how to take an approach, Riley Adams looks every bit the polished college hitter entering his first year of pro ball. The Toronto Blue Jays prospect operates with a wide stance and little significant weight transfer for momentum and leverage, so right now he’s not exploiting all of his abundant raw power. He’s forever in balance, though, and the wide stance allows his contact skills to play up. Above average bat speed helps him hit the ball gap-to-gap with authority even without the show of his raw power right now, and above-average overall athleticism—especially for a catcher—helps him at the plate and on the bases as a good runner and overall ballplayer.
Adams’ strike zone discipline and plate coverage are both fine now, and while he has struggled with strikeouts at times in his college career, I thought he looked much better in his approach last week for Vancouver. He could hit for average in the future thanks to the sum of these skills at the plate, though it’d be interesting to see him add a more pronounced stride and/or leg kick to see how much his above-average raw power could develop on top of it.
Defensively, he’s one of the better rookie ball catchers I’ve seen this year, and his athleticism translates over to behind the plate very well. Riley Adams is active and quick behind the plate, reading balls in the dirt very well and showing off a strong arm. He’s got some work to do in consistency as far as his pitch receiving is concerned, especially on balls low in the zone (a typical point of struggle for taller, bigger catchers) but there’s a feel there already and I think he’ll improve in time.
A tall, lean catcher, he can get long in his throws to bases sometimes and could stand to speed up his arm action, but it’s a minor adjustment and he’s working off a good base with that incredibly strong arm here at the start of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays. Adams shows good anticipation, situational awareness, and vision behind the plate, too. A tall kid, but he’s an average to above-average catcher who I think should stay at the position moving forward.
Riley Adams Scouting Report — Projection
Immediately an organizational top prospect after the Toronto Blue Jays drafted him in June, the future is bright for Riley Adams. Whereas his opposing catcher this week is a gritty gamer who could turn into a platoon-type catching prospect, I think Adams will have a shot as a frontline starter behind the plate who could be an everyday guy with an above-average offensive profile for the position. He’ll need to improve receiving skills and make more consistent his throwing mechanics to take advantage of his abundant arm strength, though.
Beyond that, if Riley Adams falls short of his catching projection, he’s a good enough athlete and should end up hitting enough that first base and/or a corner outfield role may be in the cards. I like him best behind the plate to take advantage of his bat and overall athleticism, but he’ll show enough offensively that a more hitting-focused position in the field could be a future outcome for the Toronto Blue Jays prospect. He’ll get every chance to prove himself as a catcher before that happens, though.