Prospect Adams learning in big league camp

March 8th, 2021

After an illustrious high school career as a two-sport star who earned a scholarship to play both baseball and football at the University of North Carolina, has been able to focus simply on getting better at baseball since he was chosen by the Angels as the No. 17 overall selection in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Adams, 21, has made major strides over the past three years, especially after a stint at the club’s alternate training site in Long Beach, Calif., last year. He’s now in Major League camp for the first time in his career and was listed as the club’s No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline on Monday in the new 2021 rankings.

Adams isn’t likely to make his big league debut until next year, but he has been enjoying the process of improving his game, including an overhauled swing he debuted last year.

"I've been a two-sport athlete all throughout my life, and since I got drafted, I've been able to wake up and play baseball every day and get better, which is definitely a blessing,” Adams said via Zoom on Monday. “I don't take that for granted at all. I love it. And I just like the process. I love the process I'm going through right now."

Part of that process is improving his swing path, which has changed since his time at Green Hope High School in his native Cary, N.C. Adams, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder, is working to generate more power from his frame while also looking to cut down on his strikeouts.

In his last full season in 2019, Adams posted a .257/.351/.369 slash line with eight home runs, 17 doubles, 36 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 109 games across three levels -- reaching as high as Class A Advanced. He also struck out 111 times compared with 56 walks in 482 plate appearances.

"My hands are in a different placement now," Adams said. "It's just kind of an easier spot for me to make a quick turn, keep my bat path kind of clean, and right now is the perfect spot to have my hands with the way my lower half and everything is developing."

Adams also is continuing to work on his outfield defense, as he has seen most of his action in center field but has also been working in both corner-outfield spots. He cited as a mentor in camp, and the club also brought in Bruce “Jeter” Hines as the outfield coach this year.

Angels manager Joe Maddon has been impressed by what he has seen from Adams the past two years and believes the outfielder is making the necessary improvements.

"His body has matured in one year; he's strong," Maddon said. "He's really an interesting young man that, I think, is going to play and play well in the Major Leagues.

“The last thing that's going to really show up is going to be his hitting. He's still making some adjustments there, but you can see when he catches it right, he's very strong. I think he's going to be a really good defender, and he throws well. I didn't realize how strong his arm was."

Adams said he worked hard over the offseason to add that strength to his frame and is still getting stronger. He’s part of a solid group of outfield prospects for the Angels, which also includes the club’s No. 1 prospect, , as well as , , , , and . And that's not even counting , who was the club's top prospect heading into last year but has graduated from prospect status.

It's a reason Maddon believes that the club's farm system is underrated, especially when considering pitchers and , and infielder .

“We have a lot of great athletes that now we have to get into the baseball component and get them becoming better baseball players mentally and physically,” Maddon said. “But these are the kind of guys that you love to work with. These are really high-level prospects. Young players that are going to really continue to show up as they get more information and more playing time."