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CAR notes: Abraham looking ahead07/27/2011 10:00 AM ET
By Jeff Seidel / Special to MLB.com
Adam Abraham found himself faced with a difficult choice a few years ago -- should he play professional baseball or professional hockey?
The Michigan native loved baseball but had moved away from home to play junior hockey just outside of Toronto while in high school. Abraham expected to be picked in the 2005 NHL draft, but a lockout wiped out the season heading into that draft, which caused him some worries about that game.
Meanwhile, Michigan's baseball program had remained in contact with Abraham. In addition, the Florida Marlins picked Abraham in the 34th round that same June. Abraham didn't sign with the Marlins but saw baseball as the sport to shift to, a move that appears to have paid off.
Abraham played three years with the Wolverines entering the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, where the Indians took him in the 13th round. He's been moving up through the Cleveland system and is having a solid season with Kinston this year. Abraham can play first and third base as well as catcher and had a .252 average with 13 homers and 47 RBIs through Monday's games.
He played catcher for the first time last weekend, and his 13 homers tie his career high from 2010. He'll likely set a career mark in RBIs as well.
"I have no regrets about the decision I made," Abraham said. "I knew I had a future in baseball."
Abraham said what made the entire situation so tough back in 2005 was that he knew he had a future in hockey. He moved four hours from home to play junior hockey with the Mississauga IceDogs (now the Niagara IceDogs), but Abraham lost his amateur status in all Michigan high school sports since the team paid him.
That's why he couldn't play baseball in high school during his junior and senior years.
"It was really hard [then]," he said. "I knew there was a chance I wouldn't be able to play baseball anymore."
But the Michigan baseball coaches remained in contact with him throughout that time, making it easy for Abraham when he decided to leave the rink and return to the diamond. Still, changing back to baseball wasn't an easy task.
"I think it was a little tough at first," Abraham said. "I lost two years of ... development with baseball. When I went to college, I was going off athleticism a lot."
Abraham needed to make even more changes when joining the Indians' Minor League system during the 2008 season.
Abraham said his swing often had some of the athletic looks of a hockey slap shot, where he'd often be on his front foot. He needed to work on keeping his hands back more often, something that's been improving with time.
Kinston hitting coach Phil Clark said Abraham began turning the corner midway through 2010 and has consistently improved this season.
"He's starting to get familiar with his abilities and what he can and can't do," Clark said. "He's starting to drive balls. His hitting, and hitting for power, is what's starting to open eyes."
Even though the former defenseman still loves hockey, Abraham doesn't think about sticks and pucks too much any more. It's now all about how to improve in a rather complex sport.
"You don't want to peak or plateau, you just always want to strive to get better," Abraham said."I'm still working because baseball is a tough game to play."
Stingy Keys: The Frederick pitching staff wasn't a very gracious host to Myrtle Beach last weekend. The Keys allowed a grand total of one run in three games as they rolled to three victories over the Pelicans.
Smaller numbers: There are only two regular hitters with averages of at least .300 as many have said the Carolina League belongs to the pitchers this season. Jose Martinez (.314), who was promoted from Winstom-Salem to Double-A Birmingham earlier this month, and Lynchburg's Andrelton Simmons (.301) are the top two hitters in the league through Monday's games.