In recent years, the University of San Diego has produced numerous early-round picks in the MLB First-Year Player Draft, with the most notable player being Kris Bryant, who the Chicago Cubs selected with the second overall pick in the 2013 draft.
Junior catcher Riley Adams is one of the top draft-eligible college catchers and could be USD’s next high draft pick come June’s MLB Draft. Baseball American ranks Adams as the 37th-best college prospect in this year’s draft class.
Adams hit .327 with six home runs and 37 RBIs last season and performed well in the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer, causing his draft stock to rise. But like other high-profile draft prospects, he’s leaving the draft pressure for others to worry about.
“I don’t really spend too much time with that,” said Adams about the draft. “All that stuff will work out in the end.”
Adams is athletic and has a strong arm behind the plate, but some professional scouts question if he will stick at catcher long-term because of his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame. Adams on the other hand, doesn’t see any reason why he can’t remain a catcher in pro baseball.
“I really enjoy the position,” he said. “I get that a lot, people questioning if I’m able to stay back there. I know there’s people who still don’t think I can. I know I’m taller than most catchers. I’m always going to have to fight that. I’m going to have to stay flexible.
“Our team does yoga twice a week and that helps a lot. I try to work on my strength in the weight room to keep my legs as strong as they can. I do everything I can to keep my body in shape physically. If I continue to do that, I think my body is perfectly fine to catch. I don’t see the height issues being a probable.”
Besides his arm strength defensively, Adams also has above-average power from the right side of the plate. His goal this spring, is to display his power more frequently.
“I think one thing I’ve continued to work on is consistency, especially when it comes to batting,” Adams said. “I know I have tools. I’m a taller guy and know I have some leverage to work with. There’s always that ability to hit for power. I know that in there, but it’s not always there on a consistent basis.”
In 17 games this spring, Adams is off to a slow start, hitting .246. His power numbers have improved however, as he already has matched last season’s home run total with six.
Adams has picked up his offensive production recently, hitting four home runs in a three-game span from March 17 to March 19. He’s not worried about his personal performance, however. Instead, he’s focused on leaving his mark at USD by leading the program deep into postseason play.
“I know this could potentially be my last year in college baseball, and I want to make the most of it,” Adams said. “Our team has come up short of where we thought we’d be at the end of the year (in previous seasons).
“I think we have a lot of older guys who are on the same page and want to do something special with this team. (We want to) see ourselves in Omaha and be that first team in USB history to go (to the College World Series).”
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