After hitting .310 with 22 homers in his first full season as a pro for Class A Quad Cities in 2010, Cardinals' first base prospect Matt Adams skipped a level to Double-A Springfield in 2011. The move more than paid off as the Slippery Rock product was named Texas League Player of the Year
after bashing 32 homers -- most in the St. Louis system -- and driving in a league-best 101 runs. Adams' .300 average ranked fourth among Cards' full-season farmhands and his .566 slugging percentage led all qualifiers in the system.
Adams, who also participated in the elite Arizona Fall League, was home in Pennsylvania gearing up for the 2012 campaign when he spoke with MiLB.com.
: What have you been up to during the offseason?
Matt Adams: I had a sore knee towards the end of the Fall League and missed the last two weeks there, then gave myself another week off here at home. Since then I've been working out with a trainer and doing a lot of hitting in the cage.
MiLB.com: What was your experience in Arizona like?
Adams: It was great being out there for the AFL and having a chance to play against and with the top players in the Minors.
MiLB.com: It's said that the hardest jump for Minor Leaguers to make as they move up the ladder is that to Double-A. You skipped over Class A Advanced altogether on your way to the Texas League. At what point did you find out that you'd be headed to Springfield instead of Palm Beach?
Adams: I had an idea that I'd be on the Double-A roster by the last week of Spring Training. It didn't really matter to me where I went, but when they sent me to Springfield, I definitely wanted to convince them they hadn't made a mistake.
MiLB.com: You went 0-for-9 in your first two games with Springfield before collecting hits in 13 of your next 14 games. It seems like you made a pretty smooth adjustment.
Adams: After those games I sat down with our hitting coach, Phillip Wellman, and we looked at video of the way I'd been hitting in Spring Training against the way I hit in the first two games. I needed to get back to basics while getting used to the pitchers.
MiLB.com: What was the biggest difference between the pitching you'd faced in the Midwest League and the pitchers in Double-A?
Adams: Command, mainly. There were certainly guys [in Class A] who had great stuff and good command, but it seemed like every pitcher who came out of the bullpen in the Texas League could command all their pitches.
MiLB.com: What was your role like in the Springfield clubhouse? Obviously you were the team's top home run hitter -- how did you do in the video games?
Adams: (Laughs) I pretty much kept to myself actually. I got into some of the card games with the guys, but that's about it.
MiLB.com: You grew up in an area known for football and certainly have the size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) for it -- did you play football or any other sports when you were younger?
Adams: No, I was always focused on baseball. Our high school football coach (who taught drivers' ed) used to bug me about playing and so did the wrestling coach, but I stuck with baseball. Actually, I still see the football coach sometimes, and he still mentions it.
MiLB.com: What were your favorite teams and players when you were growing up?
Adams: My hometown is right in the middle between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, so we paid attention to both sets of teams. My favorite baseball player was always Ken Griffey Jr.
MiLB.com: How much thought have you given to the fact that there's a hole to fill at first base in St. Louis with Albert Pujols having departed to the Angels?
Adams: I hated to see Albert go. He brought so much to the team and the organization. He's an amazing player. I'm concentrating on improving my own game more than where I'm playing, but yeah, it's exciting to maybe have an opportunity to contribute.