CEDAR RAPIDS — You set your college’s single-season home-run record, become a top 10-round draft pick, begin your professional career. And get asked to change your swing.
Jake Adams was a bit bewildered by that.
“Absolutely, it was frustrating,” the Quad Cities first baseman and former University of Iowa star said Monday night, before his team’s 5-1 loss to the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I had that swing my whole life. I get to this level, I’m drafted in the sixth round, obviously, I was doing something right, and, all of a sudden, they try to change stuff on me. It’s really frustrating, because I had so much success in college. But I’m happy where I’m at right now, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m glad they did it when they did it.”
Adams hit 29 bombs last season for the Hawkeyes, leading NCAA Division I. The Houston Astros selected him in the sixth round of the 2017 MLB Draft, and he signed for a $210,000 bonus.
He was assigned to short-season Class A Tri-City and struggled big time as he tried to get comfortable with how the Astros wanted him to swing the bat. He hit 10 home runs in 48 games but sported just a .170 batting average.
“I had a bat tip in college, and that was taking away some of my time getting to the ball,” Adams said. “So they wanted me to really shorten that up a little bit and go quicker to the ball. Obviously you see guys throwing 95-plus at this level. That was the main thing. Just to shorten up as quick as I can. Get my hands to the ball quicker.”
Which he appears to be doing, as Adams went into Monday’s game with a .283 average in 26 games and four homers. He went 1-for-4 with an infield single here.
“I worked with the coaches a lot and finally got a comfortable swing where they wanted me to be at,” he said. “I’ve just been working on it every single day. Like I say, our coaches have done an absolutely phenomenal job. The last few games I have been seeing it really well. Hopefully I can keep that going through the last 100 games or whatever we have left.”
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The Kernels (16-15) rebounded from a rough 1-5 road trip out east thanks to a dominating starting pitching performance from Brusdar Graterol. The 19-year-old flamethrowing Venezuelan allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings, lighting up the radar gun again.
His first two pitches registered at 100 miles per hour, and he got as high as 101 with his fastball, which was still hitting 99 miles per hour in the sixth. Graterol came off the disabled list (strained back) to make the start.
“He had it working tonight,” said Manager Toby Gardenhire. “He was sitting 98 to 101 and still hitting 99 miles per hour in the sixth inning. Pretty fun to watch the velocity. But the really good thing about tonight was he was locating his breaking ball, and he was throwing his changeup, too. That’s why he’s as highly thought of as he is. That was pretty good.”
Outfielder Alex Kirilloff had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games for Cedar Rapids. The teams play again Tuesday night at 6:35.
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