On the day that the Kansas City-hosted Futures Game featured two Royals starters in Jake Odorizzi and Yordano Ventura, fellow farmhand Jason Adam looked a lot like a future big league hurler too. But he was pitching in Wilmington, De.
The Royals' No. 11 prospect struck out a career-high nine batters over 7 1/3 three-hit scoreless innings in his Class A Advanced Blue Rocks' 2-1 10-inning defeat to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
Adam, Kansas City's fifth-round draftee in 2010, retired his first 10 batters in a row before yielding Hanser Alberto's infield single in the fourth. The 20-year-old right-hander walked a batter and allowed a single to Santiago Chirino in the fifth before retiring eight straight over the latter innings.
"I felt like all my pitches were working well," said Adam, whose 84th and final offering resulted in a second single by Chirino with one out in the eighth. "My fastball was good. When I missed with the fastball, it was down. The curveball tighter than it has been."
The career high in strikeouts was one more than the eight he tallied in a June 2, 2011 start for Class A Kane County. "It just meant that I was able to get ahead of guys, and I was able to finish them off quickly with the curveball that starts in the zone and ends up out," he said.
The improved repertoire -- Adam said his pitches had more "life" -- was a direct result of work the pitcher put in with Blue Rocks coach Steve Luebber following three dreadful outings over which he allowed 16 runs. He threw 98 pitches in his last start, a 12-8 loss in Frederick on Tuesday, and is on a 100-pitch count per start.
"I've been working with Luebber on making minor mechanical adjustments," he said. "Before I was trying to make a pitch behind my body. That caused me to push the ball."
His step-by-step mechanics now: Relaxing his right arm until it reaches head height; closing his front side; "ripping" down with his shoulder; and on his follow-through, spanking his butt with his throwing hand.
"I do less really," he said. "I was trying to do much and think too much. Now I'm ripping down through the ball.
"Mechanical changes and mental focus. Previously, I was letting my mind slide when we got a two-run lead or whatever."
Adam had no such luxury in this outing. The Blue Rocks scored one run in the second: Lane Adams reached on a fielding error by shortstop Alberto, advanced to third on Jose Bonilla's one-out single and scored a batter later on Juan Graterol's single.
Whether he's pitched well or poorly, Adam has had trouble finding the win column. Through 17 starts in his second full season, the Overland Park, Kan., native is 1-9 despite his respectable 3.94 ERA.
Pelicans starter Randy Henry allowed the unearned run on six total hits and struck out four over 6 1/3 innings. Relievers Jimmy Reyes (2-2) and Ben Rowen, who earned his seventh save, took care of the rest.
The home team tied the game on Brett Nicholas' leadoff homer in the ninth and took the lead in the 10th (on Christian Villanueva's two-out RBI double against Blue Rocks reliever Edwin Carl (1-2).