A week ago yesterday, Mike Adams was pitching the University of Tampa into the NCAA Division II National Championship Game.
This Friday, Adams celebrated with his family as he was taken in the seventh round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Adams said. “You dream about it your whole life. You work hard for it. When I saw my name on the screen, it was pretty awesome.”
Adams, who graduated from Nature Coast in 2009, is the school’s first draftee in any professional sport. He is the second former county player taken in this year’s draft, following Hernando High’s Christian Arroyo in the first round.
The Red Sox selected the 22-year-old, 6-foot-3, 215-pound left-handed pitcher with the seventh pick of the seventh round, 203rd overall.
Though he still has a year left of eligibility at UT, Adams anticipates moving on.
“If the money is what is promised and everything, I’ll be heading up to New York-Penn League (which includes Boston’s Short-Season Single-A team the Lowell Spinners) to start my pro career soon.’
If Adams has indeed played his final collegiate game, he certainly went out on a high note.
A relief pitcher most of the season, he got the start in the May 31 national semifinal at the USA Baseball Training Complex in Cary, N.C.
“I’d been the guy out of the bullpen to come in if it was a close game, to try to hold the other team down,” Adams said. “I think the coaches felt I was one of our main guys all year and they made the decision to start me.”
Adams responded, tossing six scoreless innings against Grand Valley State University. He scattered five hits and a walk while striking out four, tossing 79 pitches. The top-ranked Spartans cruised to a 10-1 victory.
“I’ve never been so anxious to pitch. Going into a baseball game, I’m always very relaxed, very calm. I could not calm myself down for that start,” Adams said. “It was such a great experience. It was such a blessing to pitch on that stage, in that type of game.
“What I learned this year, it’s all about locating the ball. My curveball, the pitch I’ve relied on my whole life, wasn’t working like it normally did. I had to locate my fastball on the lower inside and outside corners. I had great defense behind me. There were no errors along with a couple of good plays.”
The next night, Adams watched as Tampa defeated second-ranked Minnesota State in the title tilt, 8-2. The Spartans claimed their sixth national title, their first since back-to-back crowns in 2006-07.
“That is the most amazing feeling ever,” Adams said. “My whole baseball career I’ve won a lot of games. There’s nothing like winning a national championship. It was such a fun team. The team was so close.
“We never really got on a win streak. The team had trouble jelling. Then something happened toward the end of the year where the team really started to come together.”
For his efforts in the National Finals, Adams was named to the All-Tournament Team. He had also tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in a 12-4 win over Coker College on May 26, striking out four.
Jake Schrader, a Pasco High graduate who Adams has played with or against since they were 8 years old, was named Most Outstanding Player.
“We were able to play on the same team a little bit but most of the time we were rivals,” Adams said. “But we always stayed friends.
“It’s really cool (to win with Schrader). Not a lot of people get to do that. What more can you ask for than this? It’s awesome to be able to do this together.”
On the year, Adams finished 8-0 with six saves and a 2.10 earned run average. He threw 64 1/3 innings over 26 appearances with two starts, tallying a team-high 77 strikeouts.
He was named Sunshine State Conference and South Region Pitcher of the Year, and garnered All-American honors.
Over two seasons prior – after redshirting his freshman year due to a bout with mononucleosis – he had only thrown a combined 16 innings.
During his three seasons at Tampa, he went 10-0 with seven saves and a 2.91 ERA, striking 99 batters in 80 1/3 frames.
He has another semester to go before graduating with a degree in health science and adult fitness. However, his playing days with the Spartans would appear to be behind him.
“Making the decision to go to the University of Tampa was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Adams said. “I think I had a real good season. I achieved a lot of personal accolades and won a national championship. I feel like my job in Tampa is done and I’m ready to move on to my pro career.”
By the numbers: Mike Adams at University of Tampa
YR GP IP H R ER BB K W L S ERA
2011 5 6.0 17 11 8 1 8 1 0 0 12.00
2012 8 10.0 7 5 3 2 14 1 0 1 2.70
2013 26 64.1 51 16 15 8 77 8 0 6 2.10
TOTALS 39 80.1 75 32 26 11 99 10 0 7 2.91