Adams hits three homers, plates seven

Two-sport athlete turned down basketball to go pro in baseball

Lane Adams has hit 30 homers in five Minor League seasons. (Ken Inness/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | August 13, 2013 9:04 PM

As a young teenager growing up in eastern Oklahoma, Lane Adams had dreams of highlight-reel dunks and game-winning jump shots.

He wanted to be the guy who went from a town which counted its inhabitants in hundreds and then found his way to a national stage and primetime TV.

But Tuesday, he reached new career heights in the sport that tugged him the other way -- smacking three homers and plating seven RBIs in Double-A Northwest Arkansas' 10-1 rout of Corpus Christi.

Adams had decided to quit baseball in his sophomore year in favor of hoops. Then his mother stepped in and made a threat that only a parent could make.

"Basketball was always my first choice," said Adams, selected by Kansas City in the 13th round of the 2009 Draft. "I really wanted to focus on playing college basketball and have a career in the NBA. I thought it would benefit me more [to play one sport] ... but my mom said if I quit, I would have to get a job at Sonic, the fast-food restaurant."

That alone basically put an end to his plan to ditch baseball. Now he couldn't imagine life any other way.

"It was above average," joked the 23-year-old of a performance that tied the club RBI record. "It's just one of those things that may happen once in your career. As far as individual accomplishments, it's definitely up there. I've never hit three home runs in my career, this was the first time.

"I'm very, very happy that I chose baseball, I've had a lot of fun. I have no idea what I'd be doing right now. I had no idea what I'd be studying at college. Basketball was just something I always wanted to do."

Adams is the second member of the Naturals to homer three times in one game this season. Brian Fletcher achieved the feat July 24 in Northwest Arkansas' 10-8 victory over Arkansas.

The right fielder hit a solo homer to left field on Michael Foltynewicz's 1-1 pitch in the second inning and he fouled off five two-strike offerings from Cameron Lamb in the seventh before depositing the 11th pitch he saw for a grand slam.

Then in the ninth, Adams capped his night with a two-run long ball off the foul poul down the third-base line. It raised his Texas League tally to four and took his season total to 11, which ties a career high established across two levels in 2012.

"He was kind of a one-man show," said Naturals manager Brian Poldberg. "He had the solo home run to get us going, then he hit a grand slam on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded to give us some breathing room. Then the two-run home run off the foul pole.

"He's seeing the ball real well. He's a young hitter and he gets a little too aggressive at times, but I love his approach and his aggression and hustle. He brings a lot of energy to the team."

Adams -- who led Red Oak High School to a state championship in 2009 and then turned down a basketball scholarship to Missouri State University -- entered the game in a 5-for-32 slump with just two extra-base hits and five RBIs in his past nine games.

It was hitting coach Nelson Liriano who helped him correct a few flaws.

"We went in the batting cage and then in the video room, and he showed me I was feeling for the inside pitch too much. I was in between in the swing and I was working too much to the opposite field. He said if I wanted to be a good hitter, I had to use the whole field.

"I was collapsing my back side. Instead of staying tall on the back side, I was chasing the pitch down and away. ... He showed me the things that I wouldn't see when I was at the plate."

Now Adams hopes he can put that slump behind him and make more improvements at the plate in the final month of the season. His attitude and work habits have already impressed Poldberg, despite the fact it's only been 25 games since his promotion from Class A Advanced Wilmington.

"His first game here, he hit a shallow fly ball to center field and he was one step off second base [when it was caught]. The center fielder was camped under the ball," said Poldberg, who described Adams as a plus-plus runner and a solid defender. "Just his determination and hustle, it's things like that that you remember. You won't see that out of many guys. He doesn't take it for granted."

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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