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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Comparing Pujols and Adams in the AFL

Though I thought I was done writing about Albert Pujols, reader reaction to the early spring success of St. Louis Cardinals first base prospect Matt Adams brought me back to the subject.

Some overly excited fans have actually suggested Adams could become the next Pujols, the Cardinals’ franchise player. Since Adams has yet to play a game above Double-A, I said I would reserve my judgment about that.

Then, I got to thinking. Adams has appeared in another forum in which he could be compared to Pujols. Both players competed in the Arizona Fall League, considered baseball’s top prospect showcase, at a time when each had been selected the Cardinals organization’s Player of the Year.

In 2000, during his whirlwind first year as a professional, Pujols played at three levels during the regular season. He started in Class-A Peoria, flew through A-Advanced Potomac and finished with Triple-A Memphis, where he was named Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Coast League playoffs.

Following the Redbirds’ title, Pujols did not rest. The Cards’ 13th rounder from the 1999 draft was assigned to the Scottsdale Scorpions of the AFL, where he hit .323 with four home runs and a team-high 21 RBI in 26 games. Pujols was named to the AFL Hall of Fame in 2004 and his Scottsdale number 36 was retired by the league in 2007.

Adams was also not an early draft pick, having been taken in the 23rd round in 2009. He had a standout 2011, being named the Texas League Player of the Year after batting .300, hitting a Springfield-record 32 home runs and driving in 101. Like Pujols and many others before him, he competed in the AFL this past fall, for the Peoria Javelinas.

Adams’ hitting in the offense-first environment of the desert was ordinary. On the positive side, he collected 19 RBI in 20 AFL games, but walked only three times to go with 28 strikeouts in 80 at-bats.  The power hitter’s line was just .250/.258/.475.  To put that into perspective, every single team in the league had an OPS as good or better than Adams’ .733 mark.

Adams was named to the league’s all-star/prospect showcase game, the Rising Stars Showcase, though participants are selected as much on reputation as league performance. Adams was unable to play due to a minor knee injury that caused the Cardinals to hold him out of the final two weeks of AFL action in a precautionary move.

Is it reasonable to put any stock in a comparison of Pujols’ and Adams’ Arizona Fall League results over six weeks of play? Of course not.

Then again, at this point, what comparisons between the two are appropriate? Perhaps I will come back to this topic at the end of the month. Like Pujols in 2001, this is Adams’ first major league spring training camp.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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6 Responses to “Comparing Pujols and Adams in the AFL”

  1. blingboy says:

    The AFL is a small sample size, but not too small to learn anything from. 20-25 games, or parts of games, for position players.

    It can tell something about how a prospect responds to the recognition and pressure of being singled out by his org and put on a bigger more well lit stage, against upgraded competition, with only a few games to make his mark.

    Matt did well enough, but nothing like Albert, who was a special player in his prime.

    On another note, seeing Cora in the lineup at 1B made me wonder whats the latest on Craig’s progress. Anybody know anything?

    • T8Ball says:

      He has roundabout 20 innings at 1B in his career. 16 last season, 2 errors.

      MC, Hamilton, Adams, Scruggs, Yadi, Cruz…..all can play 1B. I guess they want to get him ABs?

      • blingboy says:

        The only thing I can think of is MM wants to look at a possible temporary 1B backup, besides Yadi, from among players who he thinks likely to make the opening day roster. That probably rules out Skruggs, Adams, Hamilton, etc.

        I wonder if Holiday will eventually start getting some work at 1B as his career moves toward its later years. Probably wouldn’t be too pretty.

  2. CariocaCardinal says:

    I wouldn’t give credence to anyone who suggested that any player was the next Pujols before the unnamed player had a AAA at bat.

    • blingboy says:

      It’s kind of funny. There is a lot of hyperventilating on the STLtoday comment boards. We’re doomed. Matheney should be fired. Adams the next Pujols. etc.

  3. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    “I try to just put a good swing on it all the time,” Pujols said. “I’m not sitting out there trying to hit the ball out of the park. I’m just trying to hit the ball back to the middle and…… let the ball get deep…… and try to make good swings every day, whatever I have to do to help this ballclub and this organization win.

    On his two Hr’s ……………. they are aware of his “premeditation” issues………… he stunk 2 days ago…..he got a day off……. and responds……… lets hope he succeeds………….

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