Willy Adames Receives Surprise Callup
At some time after mid-June and before the end of the season, shortstop Willy Adames will join the Rays to stay.
As the top prospect and the head of a class of talented young players they expect to be the core of future success, Adames is targeted for stardom.
That made his sneak peek in Tampa Bay during an unexpected May cameo callup all the more exciting.
With starting shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria on the disabled list, and with second baseman Joey Wendle taking a three-day paternity leave, the Rays summoned Adames, who seemed destined to remain at Triple-A Durham until after the unofficial Super Two arbitration cutoff in June.
That made it a bit of a surprising move, made more unusual by the Rays basically announcing ahead of time he was only there for the three days. Still, there was some risk at either extreme—that he did so well that it looked really bad to send him back down, or that he got hurt and then accrued the service time they so carefully wanted to avoid.
"It’s very exciting,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Willy has done nothing but make just positive impressions every time you see him, every time you talk to him . . . He’s just got that knack where he can come in and light up a room, light up a clubhouse. And we anticipate he’s going to do some special things and light up the field for us.”
Adames showed that in his debut, hitting a home run in his second at-bat against Red Sox ace Chris Sale. But he also experienced the down side in his second start—a throwing error from shortstop on a routine grounder in the ninth inning of a tie game that led to a 4-1 loss.
Adames was thrilled to get the opportunity. He flew in his parents and sister from the Dominican Republic to see his second game, even under the circumstances of the business side of the game.
"I’ve got to be okay with it, and when I come back—hopefully soon—do my best,’’ said Adames, who signed with the Tigers in 2012 and was traded to the Rays in July 2014 as part of the return for David Price. "I just want to be here and play in the big leagues.’’
Whether that’s in mid-June, in July after a trade of Hechavarria or later in the season, the Rays figure Adames will benefit from the experience.
"You’d like to think that any opportunity you get at this level, the reps, the pace of the game—I think every level you go up starting from A ball, Double-A, Triple-A, the pace of the game changes,’’ Cash said. "Everybody talks about how much faster it is up here. He’s going to see that firsthand so he’ll be better equipped when he comes back.’’
2018 Prospect Graduation Grades
Re-grading the 10 best graduated MLB prospects from 2018, starting with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Shohei Ohtani.
>> When the Rays started third baseman Christian Arroyo (22 years, 357 days) and shortstop Adames (22 years, 262 days) on May 22, it was the first time they had two position players 22 or younger in the lineup together in nearly a decade. On July 9, 2008, Tampa Bay started third baseman Evan Longoria (22, 276) and shortstop Reid Brignac (22, 175).
>> The seemingly excessive rotation depth the Rays had this spring was quickly diluted with the trade of Jake Odorizzi and injuries to Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon (Tommy John surgeries), Yonny Chirinos and Jose Mujica (forearm strains), Nathan Eovaldi (arthroscopic elbow surgery) and Jake Faria (oblique strain).