Lane Adams Joins 'From Phenom To The Farm:' Episode 7
“From Phenom to the Farm” releases new episodes every other Tuesday featuring players whose experiences vary across the professional baseball spectrum. Players will discuss their personal experiences going from high school graduation to the life of a professional baseball player.
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If the proposed plan for MiLB contraction comes to fruition and short-season leagues are eliminated, players like Lane Adams might not be have as much of a chance to succeed in professional baseball.
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Baseball finds itself constantly battling to keep elite multi-sport athletes in its ranks. Basketball and football typically are more accessible sports to play in the youth ranks, and offer preferable college scholarship opportunities compared to baseball. The NFL and NBA also have advantages over MLB when it comes to wooing top college talent to their respective professional ranks; both from the appeal of jumping directly to the highest level of the sport (as opposed to heading to Minor League Baseball) and typically more valuable financial guarantees.
Both the NBA and NFL have won high-profile battles of late in securing top college talent over baseball; Orioles’ 2014 fourth round pick Pat Connaughton threw in just six professional games before spurning baseball for the NBA, while current Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray famously walked away from a reported $14 million in additional guarantees on top of his original $4.66 million signing bonus as the A’s 2018 first round pick without playing in a single professional baseball game.
One advantage that MLB (for now) still carries over its basketball and football counterparts is being able to sign multi-sport athletes out of high school. Even if baseball isn’t that athlete’s top pick, a six-figure signing bonus chance to be a professional athlete can tilt the scales baseball’s way when being compared to “just” a full ride scholarship to play another sport collegiately.
In 2009, Lane Adams was a multi-sport athlete in this exact position. A Missouri State basketball recruit, despite being known to professional scouts as a toolsy outfield prospect from the Oklahoma high school ranks, Adams hadn’t even planned on playing college baseball. He was watching the draft from a computer lab while on Missouri State’s campus for his first (and last) summer basketball workout sessions, when the Royals grabbed him with their 13th round pick and offered him an opportunity that swayed him from college hoops.
Adams, like many elite multi-sport athletes who choose baseball, was flush with talent but short on reps. His amateur summers were spent shooting jump shots, as opposed to getting at-bats, so his development was going to take time and patience. Even just learning the ropes of how to train during the offseason was a hurdle.
“I had no idea what to do, I had no guidance on how to be a professional. I just didn’t know how things worked,” said Adams. “I show up to my first Spring Training, and that was the first time I swung a bat [since the previous season had ended].”
Fortunately for both the Royals and Adams, the organization had the infrastructure to support nurturing a raw talent. In his first three professional seasons, Adams was able to catch up on at-bats without repeating leagues, as the Royals carried an Arizona League team as well as two Rookie-level affiliates.
At each stop, Adams improved. He took his OPS from .630 in the AZL to .747 with short-season Idaho Falls. After a disappointing first stop in the Midwest League during his age-21 season, Adams was able to get his bearings back in short-season Burlington, posting an .814 OPS in 43 games.
“If you look at my track record, I go somewhere and I struggle, and then I figure it out,” said Adams. “I knew that it’s just reps at each level.”
Those parts of three seasons spent in Rookie ball set Adams up for his rise through full season ball, and in another three seasons he’d earn a September call-up to Kansas City. Still active, Adams’ career thus far has produced two extended big league stints with Atlanta, and he’s currently a member of the Minnesota Twins organization.
Had Kansas City not had a landing spot for Adams in-between the complex league and full season ball, he might’ve packed his bags early and headed back to Missouri State, resulting in baseball missing out out on a Major League player.
In our latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ current Twins outfielder Lane Adams joins to discuss not wanting to give up basketball, steady improvements in short-season, and how things can move quickly in professional baseball. He’ll talk finding the right fit in an organization, life as a big league bench player, and what it’s like to face off against “Mad” Max Scherzer.