The trend in baseball in recent years has been for many top prospects to skip Triple-A entirely, jumping straight from Double-A to the big leagues.
St. Louis Cardinals prospect Matt Adams, however, is content to be at Triple-A with the Memphis Redbirds, because he feels it will make him a better player in the long run.
"I'm definitely facing good pitching and they're definitely going to make it tough up here at the Triple-A level, facing a lot of the veteran guys," said Adams, the Cardinals' No. 8-ranked prospect.
The slugging first baseman put himself on the map last season when he hit .300 with 32 home runs and 101 RBIs at Double-A Springfield.
This season Adams has hit .322 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 32 games.
"I think the pitchers here they think more, they use a lot more pitches," he said. "They'll show you a fastball here and there, but they don't give in during a hitter's count. Here as a hitter, you've got to prepare; you're not getting a lot of straight, four-seam fastballs."
Facing a lot of breaking balls and pitchers who live and die with offspeed pitches can only help, Adams said.
"I definitely think that," he said. "It's going to make me a better hitter for the future."
Hitting is only one part of the game, though, and Adams remains committed to improving his fielding as well.
"I feel good, I worked hard in the offseason," Adams said. "I've got a bit more range out there. I'm definitely happy with where I'm at, but I still plan to work hard and keep getting better."
Adams was a catcher at Slippery Rock University, a Division II school, when the Cardinals took him in the 23rd round of the 2009 Draft. He was moved to first base that summer at Rookie-level Johnson City and has moved quickly through the Minors ever since.
With the departure of Albert Pujols and the fact that current Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman is 36 years old, the door seems to be wide open for Adams to seize a job in St. Louis in the near future.
For now, however, Adams is focused on helping the Redbirds (13-23) turn around their season.
"We've got a lot of talent here," he said. "We've kind of gotten off to a slow start. We're losing a lot of one-run ballgames. We're just coming up short. I think in the future we're going to turn things around."
Memphis will continue its series with Colorado Springs through Tuesday before starting an eight-game road trip on Thursday.
Reborn on a bayou: New Orleans right-hander Tom Koehler has begun to reestablish himself as a top prospect. After getting shelled for seven runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings on April 18, Koehler has allowed just five earned runs in 23 innings over his last four starts, winning three. Koehler struck out eight over six shutout innings of a 2-0 win over Tucson on Thursday.
The Bell tolls: Third baseman Josh Bell, whom the D-backs acquired from the Orioles last month, has caught fire since joining the Reno Aces. Bell has hit .421 (32-for-76) with four home runs and 29 RBIs in 19 games since the trade. As a point of comparison, he was hitting .049 (3-for-32) in nine games with the Norfolk Tides prior to the swap.
Catching up: Las Vegas catcher Travis d'Arnaud saw his 14-game hitting streak come to an end May 5 when he was 0-for-3 against Salt Lake. Since then he's hit safely in four games, going 5-for-17 to further erase the memories of his slow start to the season.
The Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect, d'Arnaud has raised his average from .182 two weeks into the year to .274 through Saturday.