Carolina notes: Adam taking notes

Wilmington right-hander soaks up knowledge during off-days

Jason Adam owns a 2.36 ERA in 22 2/3 innings for Wilmington. (Robert Gurganus/Four Seam Images)

By Jeff Seidel / Special to | May 2, 2012 6:00 AM ET

Jason Adam changed his focus this season. The Wilmington pitcher stopped worrying about the past and wondering about the future and went old-school -- the right-hander is just taking everything on the mound one pitch at a time.

The change has worked so far. Adam gave up just one earned run in his first four starts, totaling 22 2/3 innings. He struggled in his last start but still has a 2.36 ERA through the first month and is adjusting well to the Carolina League.

"I've got a new focus this year," Adam said. "I took a whole new approach. Everything's not going to go your way every time. I've heard coaches say over and over to take it pitch by pitch and I'm [doing that]."

Adam (1-2) said he worked throughout the winter on changing his mind-set. The right-hander is not getting upset after making a bad pitch or giving up a hit, and teaching himself just to go one pitch at a time.

Wilmington manager Vance Wilson said that's a good strategy for a pitcher as no one's going to be perfect all the time. The job is more about being consistent as often as possible.

"His first couple of outings, [he] looked like a Major League pitcher," Wilson said. "Now can you replicate that through 20-22 straight starts and have that consistency? You're obviously not going to dominate every game. How do you handle it when you get it trouble?"

Adam's first four starts featured little trouble, throwing five shutout innings against Frederick and Salem. He allowed just one run on four hits in five innings against Myrtle Beach and one run on five hits against the Carolina Mudcats.

"He did a good job of mixing up his pitches and keeping us off-balance all night," said Frederick infielder Bobby Stevens of Adam's effort versus the Keys.

The 20-year-old hurler had problems in his last start, allowing six runs on 10 hits in four innings against Winston-Salem on Saturday. But Adam said he'll learn from that. In fact, he spends a lot of his time trying to grow and improve as a pitcher.

Adam has the tools -- a fastball he can throw around 94 mph, a Major League-type curve plus a changeup that's rapidly improving. But even though Wilson said Adam has the physical gifts, the manager is really a fan of the pitcher's work ethic, saying he's the hardest-working player on the team. Wilson said Adam is always putting in his best effort in weight/strength training and conditioning.

Plus, Wilson really likes what Adam does on the days he's not pitching.

"He pays attention when he's not pitching," Wilson said. "It's amazing to see a kid at that age pick up a work ethic and the focus. He asks questions, talks to the [pitching coach]. More than anything, you can look at him and see he's engrossed in the game. The real teacher is the game."

So far, Adam is learning plenty. The fifth-round pick for the Royals in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft has 25 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. The 2.36 ERA this year is a long ways from last year's numbers (6-9, 4.23 ERA) with Class A Kane County in the Midwest League.

The change of focus appears to be paying off.

"Last year, I'd give up a homer or a triple or something, and I'd try to throw harder," Adam said. "It never turns out good. I just want to make the right pitch at the right spot."

In brief

In a fog: Monday's game between Lynchburg and the Mudcats wound up delayed due to an unusual reason -- fog. Carolina held a 4-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning when two straight wild pitches caused concern for the players' safety due to lack of visibility. The game was scheduled to be restarted at that point Tuesday night.

Power time: Winston-Salem got its big bats out in Monday's 10-5 victory at Potomac. The Dash got five home runs in the game -- four of which were solo shots -- en route to the victory. Brady Shoemaker hit two while Dan Black, Michael Blanke and Michael Earley all hit solo shots as the Dash stretched their winning streak to eight games.

Manufacturing runs: Salem ranks next-to-last in the Carolina League with just nine homers in its first 22 games. Stolen bases are the key as Salem has 41 so far this season, by far the Carolina League's best. Jackie Bradley (eight), Shannon Wilkerson (eight) and Felix Sanchez (seven) are leading the way.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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