Cards Minors Rookie Player of the Year: 2009

Matt Adams, the Cardinals 23rd round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is the Cardinal Nation Rookie Player of the Year.

When a friend of mine was going down the line of Johnson City Cardinals at the "Meet the Cardinals" in late June, she would break the awkward silence at each player by throwing out a brief one or two-word question.  After a brief glance at Matt Adams, it took her less than a second to say, "First baseman?"  At six foot three inches and a solid 230 pounds, it was pretty obvious that Matt wasn't a nimble middle infielder. 


Adams, a graduate of Osceola High School in Philipsburg, PA, came to Johnson City after leading the nation in batting average for NCAA Division II Slippery Rock University (PA).  Adams played about half his time in college at catcher and was actually drafted as a junior-eligible catcher by the Cardinals in June.  Adams was a three-time All American at "The Rock".  The table below summarizes the batting statistics for Adams, a hitter with the best career batting average at Slippery Rock.


Year BA OBP SLG OPS AB H 2B 3B HR Season
2009 0.495 0.566 0.853 1.419 184 91 24 0 14 Junior
2008 0.438 0.516 0.708 1.224 130 57 9 1 8 Sophomore
2007 0.421 0.487 0.661 1.148 171 72 24 1 5 Freshman
Totals 0.454   0.746   485 220 57 2 27  


Adams, a left-handed swinging gap-to-gap hitter, made an immediate impression in the Appy League.  Every year, there is one player that seems to combine a consistent, smooth, and appealing-looking swing with the sweet sound of a wooden bat hitting a baseball.  Matt Adams was that hitter in Johnson City.  He was deadly on pitches from the middle of the plate and in and was one of the few hitters who hit well in virtually every kind of situation. 


Adams' first professional home run in Kingsport, TN.


Adams receives congratulations after his 1st HR. 


Matt Adams:  Ready to swing.


Matt Adams:  Swing follow-through. 


Matt Adams:  A rare swing-and-miss. 


Adams played 77% of his 1st professional year at 1B and 23% at DH.  His size will definitely limit his defensive options going forward.  He appears to be losing some weight, which is good.  His pictures with Slippery Rock appear to show a slightly heavier-looking face and his weight in college was listed as 245 pounds.  Getting a little more athletic with his fielding, base running, and hitting will likely make him a much more attractive prospect in the future.  His fielding was pretty smooth for a big guy.  He showed good foot work and instincts at 1B.  He posted a .986 fielding percentage with six errors. 


Adams posted a very impressive statistical line (BA/OBP/SLG/OPS) at Johnson City in 115 AB (.365/.406/.574/.980).  Adams missed one game in mid-July due to chest pains suffered during warm-ups prior to the game.  A precautionary hospital visit presumably addressed all the medical concerns since Adams was back in the starting lineup the next night.  Adams was promoted to Batavia in early August, where he continued his good batting performance in the New York-Penn League.  Adams posted an equally impressive .346/.394/.523/.917 line in 130 AB with Batavia. 


2009 Best Rookie Performers


There were several other players considered for the Rookie of the Year award.  The table below summarizes the key statistics for eight of the Cardinal's best rookie performers in 2009.  The data shown represents the combined totals for the player at all levels.  The players are ordered from top to bottom by batting average (BA).  Each of the eight players had excellent professional debuts with the Cardinals organization and their future is bright. 


Matt Adams:  BA (1st), H (1st), HR (1st).

Kyle Conley:  SLG (1st), OPS (1st), 2B (1st), Batavia Player of the Year, Two-Time New York-Penn League Player of the Week. 

Rich Racobaldo:  Johnson City Player of the Year, Appy League All-Star, One-Time Appy League Player of the Week.

Jonathan Rodriguez:  GCL Player of the Year, OBP (1st).

Grabiel Hernandez:  Age (Youngest), POS (SS), 3B (1st), DSL Player of the Year, DSL All-Star.

Robert Stock:  Appy League All-Star, POS (C).

Alan Ahmady:  New York Penn League All-Star. 

Matt Carpenter:  Levels (Most and Highest), AB (1st).


Matt Adams 21.2 23rd 1B 0.355 0.400 0.547 0.947
Kyle  Conley 22.4 7th LF 0.331 0.400 0.610 1.010
Rich Racobaldo 24.3 37th 3B/DH/LF 0.321 0.389 0.482 0.871
Jonathan Rodriguez 20.2 17th 1B 0.309 0.421 0.436 0.858
Grabiel Hernandez 18 FA SS 0.308 0.392 0.448 0.840
Robert Stock 19.9 2nd C 0.294 0.363 0.494 0.857
Alan Ahmady 21.8 11th 3B/DH/1B 0.292 0.407 0.391 0.798
Matt Carpenter 23.9 13th 3B 0.283 0.370 0.390 0.761
Totals 21.5     0.312   0.468  


Player AB H 2B 3B HR Level(s)
Matt Adams 245 87 17 0 10 JC/Bat
Kyle  Conley 154 51 19 0 8 Bat/QC
Rich Racobaldo 249 80 17 1 7 JC/QC
Jonathan Rodriguez 165 51 13 1 2 GCL/JC
Grabiel Hernandez 250 77 9 10 2 DSL
Robert Stock 170 50 9 2 7 JC/QC
Alan Ahmady 243 71 13 1 3 Bat
Matt Carpenter 251 71 15 3 2 Bat/QC/PB
Totals 1727 538 112 18 41  


Matt Adams Interview with Dustin Mattison


DM:  First off, congratulations on being named the Cardinals Rookie of the Year.


MA:  Thanks.


DM:  Now that your first season is complete, can you compare the hitter you were when you first made it to Johnson City to the hitter you are now?


MA:  I believe that just trusting in what I was taught was a huge factor to hitting from Johnson City to Batavia.  The hitting instructors (Johnny Rodriguez at Johnson City and Ramon Ortiz at Batavia) were awesome!


DM:  What was the biggest adjustment you had to make as the season progressed?


MA:  The biggest adjustment as the season progressed was just being able to stay healthy and keeping your mental side of the game strong.  Also I had to continue to work hard and continue to get better day in and day out!


DM:  Was there anything that really surprised you?


MA:  There was not really anything that surprised me.


DM:  I know that you put up big numbers (.495 BA in 184 AB in 2009) during your time in college (Division II Slippery Rock University in PA).  Were you surprised at all at the numbers (.355 BA in 245 AB) you put up in your professional debut?


MA:  Yeah I was surprised a little bit.  The pitching at the professional level is different than the college level.  Just hard work and keeping my mind strong was what helped me with the numbers I put up.


DM:  What are you working on this winter?


MA:  I am working on all aspects of the game; defense, offense, and speed and agility.  Mainly, I am working on losing weight and getting into better shape for the upcoming season.


DM:  What are your goals for 2010?


MA:  My goal for 2010 is to go into spring training in shape and have my body in good shape.  Also, to work hard in spring training and get better and make a full season club.


Glossary (Statistical Acronyms Defined) 


2B is a double. 


3B is a triple. 


AB is an at bat. 


Age is the number of years old the batter currently is (November 2009). 


BA is batting average.  The higher the better.  A BA of .300 or above is very good. 


DH is a designated batter.  All teams in the lower minor leagues use a DH so that the pitchers can concentrate solely on pitching.


H is a hit.  There are four types of Hs:  single, double (2B), triple (3B), home run (HR).


HR is a home run.  The more the better. 


OBP is on-base percentage.  This is a measure of how well a batter gets on base.  The higher the better.  An OBP of 0.400 or better is very good.  A lead-off batter should always have a high OBP.


OPS is on-base plus slugging percentage.  An OPS of 0.950 or better is very good. 


POS is position played in the field:  pitcher (P), catcher (C), first base (1B), second base (2B), shortstop (SS), third base (3B), left field (LF), center field (CF), right field (RF).  If more than one POS is listed for a fielder, the first one listed was the primary (most frequently played) position.  Only positions that were played more than 10 games are listed.  C and SS are considered advanced and difficult to play positions.  1B is arguably the easiest position to play. 


R is a run scored.


SLG is slugging percentage.  The higher the better.  The more extra base hits (2B, 3B, and HR), the higher the SLG.  A SLG of .550 or better is very good.




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