FRISCO, Texas — On July 31, Jake Adams heard the news he’d been waiting for.
He was being promoted to Double-A.
That didn’t, however, preclude Nate Shaver, his manager with the Fayetteville (N.C.) Woodpeckers of the High-A Carolina League, from having a little fun before telling the former University of Iowa standout he was headed to the Texas League.
“We were in Wilmington, Delaware. It’s the day of the trade deadline, so we’re all wondering what’s going on,” said Adams, who hit 15 home runs and collected 66 RBIs with a .737 OPS in 91 games for the Woodpeckers. “We finally found out that those four (prospects in our organization) had gotten traded. Kind of had a little feeling that I was going to get called up. I just tried to stay focused (during the game).
“After the game, we’re all sitting around. Everybody was quiet. We won the game, but it was weird. Coach Shaver walked in and we had a team meeting. He first called out Jonathan Arauz, said ‘this guy, he’s going to Double-A’ and walked away. Shaver and I are pretty close, so he was messing with me a little bit. He walked away, turned back around and said ‘Adams, you might as well keep giving him hugs because you’re going too.’ A pretty special moment there.”
He was promoted to Corpus Christi, the Astros’ Double-A affiliate, on Aug. 1 and has played 12 games with his new club, homering in each of the last four. In 42 at-bats, he is hitting .333 with 14 hits, including four home runs and two doubles. He has 13 RBIs and a .667 slugging percentage.
He’s so new that Hooks Manager Omar Lopez didn’t have much to say about Adams, other than what he’d previously seen in spring training.
“He’s a hard worker who plays hard,” Lopez said. “He’s always focused and locked in, willing to make adjustments every day. It seems like he doesn’t take anything for granted and fights every day to get better.”
After finishing last season in High-A and then starting 2019 there, Adams is extremely happy to be in Double-A. However, he also realizes were it not for the breakout season he had at Iowa in 2017 after two strong campaigns at Des Moines Area Community College, Houston might not have drafted him in the sixth round in 2017 and also he might not now be in Corpus Christi.
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With the Hawkeyes, the slugging first baseman hit .335 with 29 home runs, 62 RBIs and a 1.164 OPS to earn 2017 Big Ten Conference Player of the Year honors. So, it’s not surprising to hear him say that season in Iowa City remains one of the most memorable of his baseball career.
“Oh, probably one of the funnest years I’ve had. I was not known for the power and knew going in there I had really no other options,” Adams said. “Thank goodness for Sean Moore, our hitting coach at junior college. Obviously, he came over as hitting coach there. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have ended up at Iowa. Unbelievable numbers and I never even imagined I would have done that. A really historic season and something that I always look back at.”
Right after he was promoted, several Iowa coaches texted to congratulate him. And even though he spent just one season as a Hawkeye, he’s proud to be one of several UI products currently working their way up the ladder in the professional ranks.
“Yeah, that’s huge. They said ‘hey, keep representing us well. We really enjoy watching you play. Keep doing what you’re doing, and good things are going to happen,’” Adams said. “Mason McCoy, he’s killing it right now. He’s up in Double-A, too (with the Orioles) and he’s swinging well. There are a couple guys out there right now doing well and producing.
“Hopefully before you know it, there’ll be a couple of Hawkeyes up in the bigs.”
For now, he hopes to help the Hooks make a second-half surge toward a spot in the Texas League playoffs. He’s also waiting to hear if he’ll be one of the Houston farmhands selected to play in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League in October.
In the meantime, he’s focused on acclimating to Double-A so he can finish 2019 strong.
“A lot of these guys (Double-A pitchers), they can execute more around the plate,” Adams said. “In High-A, we still had those guys that throw it hard like here but they’re all over the place. When I got up here, I knew they were spotting up more on the corners of the plate, which I figured was going to happen, a little bit more movement. But other than that, it’s the same game.”