Adduci Maximizing Second Chance in Baseball

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. – Jim Adduci's three-run walk-off home run on May 26 is immaterial to the Tennessee Smokies now, who are just 48-55 overall in the Southern League standings. But that one swing of the bat may have implications for the future of the Cubs' outfield.

Adduci was struggling before that home run. He had an average teetering around .200 and didn't have the power numbers to legitimize such an average.

A little over a month after the home run, Adduci had raised his average to over .300, and two months later his average holds strong at .310.

"I can literally put it on that one swing when I hit the home run in the doubleheader that everything just clicked a little bit, and ever since then I've had a good feeling and understanding of what I want to be at the plate," Adduci said.

Don't get the wrong idea; Adduci is no one-trick pony. Not only does his average rank among the team's best, he also leads the Smokies in on-base percentage (.391), walks (45), and stolen bases (21).

Adduci also has the ability to play all three outfield positions.

"I like all three. I love playing the outfield, (so) it doesn't bother me," he said. "Any position out there, the fun thing is being able to play all three and learning the different angles that you get to see the game at and get to see the ball coming at you."

Much like his 2009 season, Adduci's pro career paints two very different pictures.

Growing up the son of a ballplayer, Adduci only had eyes for baseball. That's why he proudly signed with the Florida Marlins out of high school in 2003 after being drafted in the 42nd round.

"For me, with my dad playing, I really just wanted to play professional baseball," Adduci said. "I had an opportunity to go to Northern Illinois and the Marlins made me an offer. My thing is that I've always wanted to be in the big leagues. Other guys have different dreams of playing in the College World Series and stuff, but for me, I always wanted to be in professional baseball."

Although Adduci had fulfilled his dream of signing with a major league club, his time with the Marlins portrayed more of a nightmare.

Luckily, the Cubs came calling. On Sept. 14, 2006, the Cubs sent minor league left-hander Zach McCormick to Florida for Adduci.

"It was like a second chance for me," Adduci said of the trade. "With the Marlins, I was hurt throughout the three years. I was in and out of rehab with a knee and a broken hand and a quad or something. Coming to a new organization, it's kind of like a new beginning. There are new people looking at me; they can get their own opinions on me and it can change their minds."

The move was sentimental to Adduci, who graduated from Evergreen Park High School in Illinois.

"It's definitely cool being from right outside of Chicago. I'm a big Chicago fan of all the sports. I have some family members that are Cubs fans and it's definitely a cool thing."

Despite how it might sound, things weren't all bad for Adduci while he was with the Marlins. While other players were smashing balls 500 feet with aluminum bats in college, Adduci was learning the hard-working attitude that it takes to make it in pro ball.

A chance to participate in extended spring training left a lasting impression on the young prospect.

"One of the things I've always said is if you want to know if you want to play professional baseball, you need to go through extended spring training," Adduci says. "It is the toughest baseball that I've ever had to go through – getting up early in the morning every day and not knowing what's going on. Then you start moving up and you really understand what 'extended' is for."

Perhaps what Adduci learned during his time in extended spring training with the Marlins ensured that he didn't waste his opportunity with the Cubs, and Adduci has certainly taken full advantage of his second chance.

Since joining the Cubs organization, Adduci has been named to All-Star teams at two levels. He was a Florida State League Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star in 2008 as well as a Southern League Mid-Season All-Star this season.

As astonishing as Adduci's 2009 turnaround seems, there is one key ingredient that makes this run more than just a hot streak – hard work.

"I'll tell you what the number one thing is, and that's hard work," Smokies hitting coach Tom Beyers said of Adduci. "That guy is the first guy here every single day and he listens to instruction. Those two things right there, him willing to work and he made an adjustment in his swing, since then it's been all him.

"He's an interesting guy. He's got quite a future," Beyers added.

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