2018 MLB Draft: Q&A With Green Hope High OF Jordyn Adams
CARY, N.C.—The last few months have been drastically different than Jordyn Adams or his family would have imagined.
After a standout performance at USA Baseball's National High School Invitational in March, Adams dramatically rose up draft boards—he's currently the No. 46 prospect on the BA 500—and has regularly been meeting with teams ahead of the MLB Draft, where he's potentially a first-round selection. Over the last few weeks, Adams has been holding workouts at Green Hope (Cary, N.C.) High in order for teams to get additional looks at the uber-athletic outfielder.
Baseball America attended his most recent workout on Wednesday afternoon, and caught up with Adams and father, Deke—who is a defensive line coach at North Carolina, where Adams is committed to play football and baseball—and mother, Alexis. Topics discussed include the looming MLB Draft, how Adams has balanced being a two-sport athlete, how he grew up with the game, how the NHSI transformed his final weeks as a high school student, as well as a number of other subjects.
Below you can find the full transcript of that interview, as well as the footage from Adams' recent workout:
Baseball America: Can you take me back to last year around this time. What was going through your mind? What were you focusing on? And how is it different this year?
Jordyn Adams: Last year this spring, I was focused on where I was going to go to school. Because I was uncommitted then and I had it slimmed down to, I think, five schools. Maybe two at this point. So my main focus then was having a strong spring—in football too, because that was my last spring with high school football. My main focus was finishing out strong there and trying to figure out where I wanted to go to school.
BA: Can you compare and contrast the recruiting process for college versus the attention that you are getting now from MLB teams, talking with scouts, scouting directors and other team officials?
JA: I would say it’s different now because now I have to really look into it deeper than what I had to look into with college. Just because this is what I would be doing for the rest of my life instead of just four years. So from that aspect I kind of focus on finding things I really like and just looking deeper and finding more details that most people really don’t see.
BA: What was the summer experience like for you, going to a few big showcase events like the Under Armour All-America Game and East Coast Pro, while also trying to balance preparation for football?
JA: An average week I would say I woke up, went to football workouts, then we went on the field and had practice—that was throughout the week. I would come home and eat and this would be around maybe four or five. After that I would go to my trainer or I would go to the cage and get some swings in, because I would still be playing baseball, playing summer ball. And then on the weekends, on Fridays I would have Fridays off during the summer so that would probably be my off day going into a tournament. And then Saturday through Sunday I would be at a tournament playing baseball.
BA: You’ve told me previously you started playing baseball before football, do you remember when that started and how you fell in love with the sport?
JA: I first started when I was three. And that was just because my brother (Jaylen) was playing it and that was just the age where you kind of start playing sports. Baseball and soccer were the first sports I played. And so ever since then baseball just stuck with me. Baseball had my interest at a young age. I don’t understand why. Because other kids, it’s slow for them and they’re not really into it, but I wasn’t that kid out there just playing in the dirt I was actually into the game. I guess from there I just fell in love throughout the years.
BA: When did football start coming into the picture, and how did you start balancing the two, especially as you started getting older?
JA: I didn’t start organized football until seventh grade. Before that it was just me playing football at practices, wherever my dad was coaching at. Me and my brother would just play on the sidelines and stuff like that. But organized football didn’t come until the seventh grade.
Deke Adams: As parents, we didn’t want him playing early like that. I mean this has been our business. I’ve been in it from the time I finished playing. This is going into year 22. And we didn’t want them playing at a young age. Especially with him playing two sports and all that, we didn’t want to burn him out at that point. We just said, 'You’ll start when you get to middle school and we’ll see where it goes from there.' My oldest son did it for a couple of years and then he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. And then, Jordyn—if there’s a ball involved, he wants to be in there. It went all the way back to Arkadelphia, Ark.
He and my oldest son Jaylen were playing in the backyard. And Jordyn gets mad at Jaylen because Jaylen doesn’t throw the ball as hard to him as he threw it to me. Well, Jaylen threw it hard and Jordyn didn’t get his glove up. And it hit him in the mouth. And he came in with blood all over his face, this and that. I said ‘Wipe your face and get back out there. You told him to throw it, so you better catch it.’ That’s where it all started to come together.
BA: Since you’ve been in the football industry, how do you manage protecting Jordyn and looking out for what’s best for him long term and also allowing him to pursue what he wants to pursue and what he’s talented at? How do you balance those two?
DA: For us, football has been our life in our family, like I said, for 22 years. We don’t talk a whole lot about the injuries and all that. He sees all that stuff though, he sees those things that happen. We don’t talk about it. That was one of the reasons we didn’t want to let him start playing until he got to a certain point. We felt like his body needed to mature enough. It was never an issue of, ‘OK I don’t want you to play because I don’t want you to get hurt.’ It was never that. It was just more of, ‘OK, are you ready?’ And then it took himself a year or so to get going, and when he did get going he finally hit his stride.
BA: Does that risk factor into the decision that you’re going to have make when the draft arrives? The fact that football has more of a risk of injury than baseball? Is that something you talk about or think about?
JA: Not really. Because I feel like if you think about injuries, you tend to play safer. And that’s when more injuries come. So, not really. Whenever I’m playing a sport I’m not thinking about that. I’m just thinking about playing.
DA: Like I said, we don’t talk about it. It’s whatever he feels is best for him … If he goes to Carolina and plays football and baseball, obviously that’s great. His dad will be there to see him every day. If he chose baseball because he felt like that was the best situation for him, then that’s great. I’m going to be behind him 100 percent.
And this is what people fail to realize early in this situation with him. They would always try to put me in the mold of his coach over his dad. And I’m going to be his dad before I’m his coach, any day of the week. I’ve been that for 18 years and I’m going to do that every day of the week. So it’s about what’s best for him and what he feels like is best for him.
BA: Does either sport come more natural to you, or is it more difficult to stay at the top of your game in either sport? Can you compare and contrast how you’ve had to prepare for each sport?
JA: Yeah, football definitely comes more natural to me than baseball. Just because, I guess, I’ve played football for fun until I took it serious in seventh grade. I mean I’m not really sure why it comes more natural, but it does. There are some aspects of the game, too, that I know I have to work at like any other sport. But football comes more natural. And then baseball, I know that it’s a game of failure. So you have to work at that. It comes natural in some parts, but in other parts I have to work at it just because baseball is hard. It’s a harder game than football.
BA: Are there any skills that are transferable from the football field to the baseball field and vice versa?
JA: Definitely playing receiver and outfield compare easily just because of how the ball comes and how you track and run down balls. I think playing receiver helped me a lot in the outfield. Because I didn’t start playing outfield until high school. I played shortstop throughout little league. When I got to the outfield I think it made it easier, with me throwing the ball and playing catch a lot at a young age. So it wasn’t new to me. I was kind of used to it.
BA: How about route running, specifically? Obviously in football the routes are predetermined, but does that help you with your route efficiency in baseball?
JA: Yeah, in football when you see a ball thrown it’s kind of go to the ball. But in baseball it’s you have to go to a certain point. So I had to get used to that, but the aspect of running down a ball and playing receiver helped me out a lot.
BA: You also played with Joe Gray when you were younger, can you talk about that experience and what it was like playing with him? You guys have some similar attributes on the field.
JA: We were like 10 I think. And then we played together for the next two years. We would hit behind each other in the order. I played shortstop and he was in the outfield. He’s always played the outfield. From there the relationship just grew.
BA: Do you still keep up with him?
JA: Yeah, of course. We were talking throughout the whole summer and then meeting up in Chicago (for the Under Armour All-America Game) was really good. We roomed together that week. During the (National High School Invitational) when he was back we met up again just to catch up.
BA: How would you compare and contrast your game?
JA: Yeah, he can track down a ball just like I can, he can hit just like I can. We play similar. I don’t know how we play similar, but we do play similar in a lot of aspects. He’s fast on the base paths, I’m fast on the base paths—there are a lot of things you could compare us with.
BA: What is it like getting the chance to play with some of the top players in the class like Joe Gray and others at some of the big events you were able to go to?
JA: It was fun because I haven’t really met a lot of the top players in the nation for the baseball side. So going to Chicago and Tampa for the East Coast Pro, that was nice catching up with all of them because I’ve made a couple friends that I still keep up with to this day. Meeting everyone and getting to know them was a really good experience.
BA: As you’re talking with scouts, is there anything that they’ve told you needs work in your game or anything that you personally have been working to improve on the baseball field?
JA: Nothing in particular, it’s just they are stressing the point that they want to see what my potential would be if I was a full-time baseball player. And how I would look doing certain things on the field if I was a full-time baseball player. Because they know I’m behind on at-bats and stuff, and sometimes when I swing they can kind of see it or during at-bats they can kind of see it. So they know those things will slim down, but that’s their main deal—wondering how I will look as a full-time baseball player.
BA: Let’s say the draft is the way you go. What are some of the things you would miss as a football player? How hard would that be to put behind you if that’s the route you take?
JA: I wouldn’t say it would be that hard, just because I’m mentally ready to go down that road if it happens. But I played baseball before I played football, so dropping football wouldn’t be that hard. I mean, yeah, I love the game and stuff but at the same time I know that playing baseball is my first love.
BA: Are there any memories in either sport that you look back on that stand out to you over the course of your career?
JA: I would say this past season in football when I returned three punt returns for a touchdown and tied the state record. That was a fun night. Everything was clicking, defense was playing really good, offense was playing really good, special teams came in. So that night went very smooth and that was very fun. Baseball-wise would be my walkoff in Wrigley. That’s a memory that a lot of people can’t say it happened.
BA: How about for you Mr. and Mrs. Adams?
DA: Mine goes back to when he was, might have been 11. And he was playing rec ball in Hattiesburg, Miss. And I was on the road recruiting. And another coach that I was working with at that time, Pat Washington, called me and he said, ‘Jordyn’s up to bat.’ OK. I didn’t think anything about it. And he hit one out. It was like 250 feet, over the street behind the fence. I was like, 'Alright, good.' Well he calls back about 30 minutes later and he said, ‘Jordyn’s back up to bat and the bases are loaded.’ And he talked me through the whole thing, and he hit it out again. He hit a grandslam. Those are the things that obviously being in this business sometimes you miss those things. But to have him there and my wife was there, it was still good to go through it. So that was fun.
Alexis Adams: I was going to say the same thing. When he was younger.
BA: Sort of relating to that, was there a time where you knew that Jordyn’s talent was enough to give him a chance to do this professionally one day, in either sport?
DA: Well I knew early. Just watching him.
AA: We both knew. I noticed when he was three. And at that time he wasn’t playing a sport, but he has an older brother, he was three and Jaylen was six. I remember when Jaylen would have friends over, we would have lots of boys that would come over to the house. You know, boys will be boys, just tussling around and wrestling and stuff. Jordyn would get in there and he would hold his own. And I’m like, what 3-year-old is able to do that with 6- and 7-year-olds? And then, Jaylen had some great coaches back then and whenever he practiced the coaches would let Jordyn jump in and he would practice with them too. And it was almost like he was just part of the team. But he was three. He just looked natural just like the rest of them. So I knew it early. I saw it early.
BA: With both of your parents’ athletic backgrounds, is there anything that you’ve learned from their experiences that you’ve taken and used?
JA: They are the parents that don’t really get involved in like pushing me. Like let’s go work out. Do this, do that. What I’ve got from them is really more of the mental side of it. How to stay humble, how to work for what you want and where you want to get to. So I appreciate them for all of that because, really without that mental side I don’t even know if I would be here right now. That’s what really pushed me, knowing that stuff isn’t just going to happen because of what family I’m a part of or who my parents are. I know I have to work for it and that’s what me and my brother did throughout the years. We always knew we had to work. So anytime that he was free and I was free we were always out on the field doing something or like in the past few years once we started lifting, trying to get in the weight room any time we could. But from them just teaching me the mental side and knowing that we have to go out and get it.
DA: The one thing with him, you talk about training and coming up and all that, his deal was—when he started and he wasn’t even playing football at this point, I think he was still a couple years away from playing football. But every time we would go in the yard I would throw him the ball, and early he would catch it. So we focused a lot on catching the ball with your hands. Catching the ball with your hands, catching the ball with your hands, catching the ball with your hands. Don’t let it get into your body. And then eventually you could just see it. Everytime he would try and catch the ball he would frame it here or he would frame it there. It just became a habit. He kept doing it. And then from a baseball standpoint, I used to get on him all the time when he was playing shortstop, about getting your glove in the dirt. Because you know sometimes he would get a little lazy I guess you could say, not bending all the way and the ball would just go under him. And he’d hear me all the time: Get your glove dirty. Get your glove dirty.
But a lot of this stuff has just been so natural for him. He works at it. We were talking to some other people the other day, he’s a kid that two years ago he gets a brand new bat for Christmas and we’re on the field. He drags me out of the house, let’s go hit. So we’re on the field on Christmas day and he’s hitting balls. He’s always been that type of kid. And in today’s society, you see kids—now he loves the video games and all that just like the rest of them—but he’s like we were when we were growing up in our time. You go out of the house and you don’t come back into the house until the street lights are coming on. He’s that type of kid.
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BA: When you’re not playing baseball, or football, or working out, or playing fortnite, what do you do for fun? What are your interests aside from sports?
JA: Really just hanging out with friends, just relaxing. Because I’m not really the teenager that likes to go out or go to parties and stuff like that. That’s just really not my scene. I could sit here, watch softball or football or whatever sport is on T.V. and be perfectly fine with it. Because I know I’m relaxing, I’m comfortable, I don’t really need to go do anything. So just this right here is what I’m doing when I’m not training … I used to fish a lot. I loved fishing … There’s no where around here I can really fish. And I don’t have a lot of time.
BA: What’s a general daily schedule for you right now?
JA: I will go to school, and my schedule’s really relaxed. Barely any classes. I don’t have a first period, I come in second with English. Right after that will be lunch, right after that civics and then my fourth period is teacher cadet. And that’s just a teacher assistant, like helping out with a teacher … On a typical day I go to school, come back home get something to eat, go train and then come back do homework if I have it and repeat the next day.
BA: Who are some football players you look up to or like to watch?
JA: I like to watch Odell Beckham Jr., but one player I look up to from his college career all the way to now is Braxton Miller from Ohio State. Because I’ve been an Ohio State fan for a minute. When I was a little kid I don’t know how I got into it, but Ohio State was just my team growing up. And Braxton Miller, I can relate to him because he transferred from quarterback to receiver and I played quarterback my junior year, so just seeing him make that transition is really something I could relate to. And being good at both I was like, 'OK let me see what he’s doing to be good at both.'
BA: Hope about baseball?
JA: Baseball, I like to look up to Andrew McCutchen out on the field, I like how he covers the ground and stuff like that. I love how he plays on the field. At the plate, I take bits and pieces of Albert Pujols’ swing and try to incorporate it into mine. So his swing is very unique and I try to take little pieces of it and use it in my swing.
BA: Favorite pro teams?
JA: I grew up a Red Sox fan. I love the Red Sox. I actually honestly think it came because my brother was a Yankees fan and just that competitiveness in me and him both. 'You like the Yankees? OK, the Red Sox are their rival so I like the Red Sox.' Since then I just kept with them.
DA: When we were in Arkadelphia a guy used to set up across the street from the house in his truck and sell baseball hats. And that’s how it started. We went across the street to get baseball hats and my oldest son wanted the Yankees. And that’s when Jordyn was like, ‘OK, get me Boston.’ From that point on it just took off from there. Something that simple. They’ve been that way for a long time. I know how that happened. But from a football standpoint we have nobody in Ohio, we have no ties to Ohio—so I have no clue why Ohio State is his team.
BA: Have you guys discussed what it’s going to take in the draft, whether it be a specific pick or bonus amount that it’s going to take to get you to go to pro baseball and forego Chapel Hill?
JA: We’ve discussed situations, but at the same time the draft hasn’t happened and you can’t really predict what’s going to happen because a lot can change. We’ve discussed different situations and different things that could happen and just talked about what will we do. So we haven’t really said that we would go take anything if something happened, but we’ve talked about it.
DA: I think he’s made it clear to every team that, if the situation is right, he will play baseball. He’s made it clear to everybody. And right now there’s just so many people pulling at him, so many teams pulling at him, it’s hard to say what will happen. So there is no number to it, there is no figure to it or anything like that. It’s more of, 'OK, let’s evaluate the situation.' All these teams know, he’s told him. So they know. Now let’s see what happens.
Because we feel like he’s one of the best athletes in the draft. And so, with him being that type of athlete, what is your value to him? What is your value to him and then what are you going to do to develop him into being the player that we, as parents, know that he can be because we’ve seen it for so long. Right now, it’s a situation where we’re waiting just to see what happens and go from there.
BA: What have you all learned from going through this process? I’m sure it’s pretty hectic for you right now.
DA: I’ve never been through this baseball stuff before. We had met with a couple teams before baseball season. And then a couple during the first part of the season. And then when the NHSI came around it was like, within that next week we had 12 meetings set up. Within that next week. So I’m like, ‘OK wow. What’s going on?’
JA: It’s just getting used to it. It all sped up so quickly and I know it’s just getting used to it. Something that I really have to adapt to.
AA: To me, with the recruiting process, I think you could control it more. Because if teams were recruiting you and if something happened, that wasn’t one of your teams you could scratch them off the list and focus on the other however many. But with baseball … you have no idea. So that has been different.