MOOSIC, Pa. — The Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre clubhouse has to be the happiest one in America.
With Gleyber Torres, Chance Adams, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler and Tyler Wade all jammed onto one minor league roster, the mood here is similar to that at an Ivy League graduation: The entire clubhouse has an anticipatory, almost giddy aura of being on the precipice of something extraordinary.
“It’s a great time to be a young Yankee,” said Adams, a 22-year-old righthanded pitcher. “It’s cool because they’ve been using their young guys lately. It’s just nice because there’s a bunch of young, talented players.”
Said Frazier: “It’s very exciting that the team is trending in a different direction and guys are getting opportunities that they might not get in the past. Everybody can earn the right to go up there, and I’m excited about anyone who’s next.”
Adams has been the talk of the Yankees’ farm system lately, especially after striking out 12 batters in a one-hit shutout of Columbus on May 31. On Tuesday against Rochester, Adams brought a one-hitter into the sixth inning before surrendering a three-run home run en route to his second loss at the Triple-A level.
Adams, however, was attracting attention long before his 12-strikeout game. After he began the season with Double-A Trenton, it took only six starts — in which he went 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA — for the Yankees to promote him. He is 7-2 with a 1.55 ERA overall, with 66 strikeouts in 64 innings.
There’s been some talk that Adams is one injury in the Yankees’ starting rotation away from being called up to the big leagues.
“He’s getting close, you know,” said Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitching coach Tommy Wilson, who also coached Adams in Tampa. “His fastball, all his stuff is really good. It’s just a matter of proving himself at every level and checking all the boxes, and being able to throw certain pitches behind in the count, making sure he can command pitches when he has to command pitches. It’s all a part of the process of going from one level to the next.”
Torres, Frazier, Fowler and Wade also are close to the point at which they have the combination of performance, pedigree and proximity to be major league options if needed. This, however, comes at the same time that most of the Yankees’ position players are performing at a high level.
There have been rampant rumors that the Yankees have designs on bringing up Torres to replace Chase Headley at third base sometime in July. Torres has been playing third base, second base and his natural position of shortstop for both Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. Torres hit .273 with five home runs in 32 games with Trenton before a promotion to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in May.
It should be noted that Headley still is owed $13 million on his contract for next season, so the Yankees would have to decide whether to eat that if they can’t trade him.
Last week, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called any reports that the team has firm plans to move up a specific player “media speculation.” He added, however, that having a group of players at the minors pushing for a call to the majors is not something he is going to complain about.
Adams, for one, has decided not to worry about being promoted.
“If they call me up, I’ll go out there and try to do my job just like I do here,” he said. “If I don’t get called up this year, then I don’t get called up. I’ll go out in spring training and show them what I have. I just try to go out and pitch the same.”
In the meantime, he and the rest of the young Yankees prospects will enjoy what they have going together in Triple-A. And so will their coaches.
Wilson said of the youth movement: “It’s really exciting. There’s a good morale in the clubhouse. They know they have a chance to play for the Yankees. It makes it exciting, especially for player development.”