While most only dream of making it to the pros, White County native Spencer Adams is living that dream in reality.
The former White County three-sport star athlete who excelled at both baseball and basketball has been rapidly ascending the Chicago White Sox ladder, inching closer to the Major League level. The 20-year-old righthander was taken in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by Chicago, and has to this point had no setbacks on his journey to “The Show.”
Adams, who started the 2016 season as Class-A Winston-Salem, was recently promoted to Class-AA Birmingham, and has completed two starts on the mound for the Barons to date. Part of his quick climb up the White Sox pipeline has been attributed his superb control over his pitches.
“I have always had pretty good command,” says Adams. “It’s not something [the White Sox organization] focuses on as much as I focus on it and stress to myself how important it is.”
Adams hits into the low to mid 90s on his fastball [92-96 during high school], but what really sets him apart from other young pitchers is his ability to control his pitches.
“I’m not gonna blow people away with a fastball, so I just try to focus on spotting up and keeping things simple in my delivery to help along with that,” adds Adams, who realizes that he has to stay within himself to find success.
“The key is keeping everything simple and smooth. You see a lot of guys try to be too fast or they have a lot of movement in their delivery, which can cause them to get off-balance and lose control of the pitch.”
Adams was immediately successful upon being drafted, heading straight out to Arizona for the short-season rookie league team in 2014. Mere weeks after graduating from White County, he made his professional debut on June 23, 2014. In ten games (nine starts), he went 3-3 with a 3.67 ERA and 59 strikeouts to just four walks, a phenomenal K/BB ratio.
His 2015 season saw him start at Class-A Kannapolis (NC), going 9-5 with a 3.24 ERA for the Intimidators. His command (73 strikeouts to 11 walks) earned him a promotion to Winston-Salem, where he went 3-0 with a 2.15 ERA in five starts for the Dash, giving up seven walks to 23 strikeouts.
This season, after going 8-7 with a 4.01 in 18 starts for Winston-Salem, Adams earned a July 20 promotion to Birmingham. He has pitched twice, taking a loss both times out, and has surrendered seven earned runs in 12 2/3 innings of work (4.97 ERA). In his Barons debut he went six innings and allowed three runs, although only giving up four hits. Three walks were uncharacteristic of Adams and left him on the wrong end as the tough-luck losing pitcher. His most recent start on July 28 saw him go into the seventh inning, but he was plagued by two unearned runs that cost him a win.
A fierce competitor, Adams will continue to battle and improve as he continues to face tougher competition. With the way he had pitched most of the season, Adams had a feeling he’d be getting a call to move up.
“I was happy I got the call,” says Adams. “They had told me about a week before that I was gonna go up, they just didn’t know when. When they finally called me and told me, it was a different feeling from when they first told me, because it was real and actually happening. It was awesome!”
To date, Adams has 23 wins to his credit in professional baseball, collecting 234 strikeout victims while walking just 47 batters. He sports a 3.55 ERA and this season for Winston-Salem hurled his first complete game shutout, his second career complete game overall.
The White County grad had committed to UGA if his draft stock wasn’t high enough in 2014. He obviously turned enough heads to be drafted in the second round. Adams is currently the third-ranked prospect in the entire White Sox organization. Therefore, the team will be patient with him as he continues to develop, but the next stop (barring any trade by the White Sox) would be the AAA Charlotte Knights.
The White Sox currently have Adams’ potential ETA to the Big Leagues at 2018, so barring a setback of any kind, Adams could see time at Charlotte next season. The 44th-overall pick in that 2014 draft, Adams signed a $1.2 million signing bonus with the White Sox, and has been one of the most polished overall pitchers from that year’s draft. White Sox scouts feel that he has a high ceiling and a high floor, and that he could add more power to his pitching as he adds to his slender frame.
At White County, Adams posted a microscopic 0.72 ERA in his senior year, going 4-2 with a save, while striking out 90 in 57 innings of work and walking only 11. He tossed five complete games, and posted four shutouts. He was the BLITZ Player of the Year for basketball and baseball during the 2013-14 school year. His athletic prowess is well-documented, especially in basketball [SPENCER ADAMS BASKETBALL HIGHLIGHTS]
Despite all of his success, Adams possesses something even more rare than his K/BB ratio…his humbleness.
“It’s not hard to be humble when you come from a small town [Cleveland] like I do,” states Adams. “I would say that’s the biggest thing is growing up in a small town where my parents always provided me with everything I needed. Everybody around me was humble also. The guys I played with growing up were never arrogant or stuck up and I guess it just rubbed off on me and it’s who I am now.”