2017 MLB Draft: Fun With Stats Jake Adams, Iowa

In his first installment of Fun With Stats, Jeff Ellis analyzes under the radar Iowa 1B prospect Jake Adams.

The MLB draft is a very different animal than any other sport's drafts. I am trying to track high school, college, and players at academies across two countries. On top of that, there will be over 1200 players drafted when it's all said and done. I doubt there is anyone who can give you a report on every player drafted. As a matter of fact, I bet there will be players drafted who multiple organizations have never heard of before. It’s the job of a scout to find those under the radar talents.

This preamble is a way for me to say that, especially with college players, my first exposure is sometimes entirely thanks to statistics. I am, by my nature, a heavy numbers guy. Numbers, for the most part, are not really helpful when it comes to prep talent. I find value in them in college ranks. I especially like to look at rate data when it comes to players. While parks can have a big effect on performance, things like strikeout or walk rates tend to be fairly consistent for a player. 

I do still look at non rate data as well. Every week, I sit down and check out the league leaders in most stats on the NCAA webpage. I go looking for how top prospects have done and also look for names I don’t know. It was on searches such as these that these players came to my attention. 

I thought it could be fun for a series of articles to target players who are not on top 100 lists, but whose numbers made me spend some time researching them and trying to find out their story. Instead of talking about the same players every week, this gives me a chance to talk about guys who have flown under the radar. 

Jake Adams, 1B, Iowa

Every time I write down his name I have to make sure I don’t type Jack Adams, thanks to a youth of hockey playing. Adams was a three sport star in high school. He is from South Dakota, which is yet to have a prep player drafted and make it to the majors. This means a player like Adams had very few chances to get seen. He ended up going to Des Moines Area Community College. He set the school's single season and career home run records in his two years there. He was all set to join University of North Dakota this year, but then the program folded. He was a man without a school; luckily for him, his hitting coach at DMACC was a former Iowa player himself and reached out to his alma mater. After one of Iowa’s recruits was drafted and signed, they were able to sign Adams to a partial scholarship. He had walk on offers at other Big Ten schools, but only Iowa could offer him some funding. 

This has worked out quite well for the Hawkeyes, as Adams has gone from forgotten JUCO bat to the premier power hitter in the Big Ten. As a matter of fact, he is currently tied for 7th in the country in home runs. As of writing this article, Adams has 16 home runs; last year, the entire Iowa team had 26 home runs in 1,930 at bats. This year, Adams has had 168 at bats and has a chance to have one of the best power seasons in school history.

Adams is a big kid, at 6’2” and 250 pounds, so, while power is expected, no one expected him to go from a small JUCO to a D1 program and be the top hitter in his conference.

If one were to look at just the traditional Triple Crown statistics in the Big Ten, Adams is first in home runs and RBI while being 11th in batting average. It has just not been home runs for Adams, either. He is tied for third in doubles and leads the conference in total bases and slugging. He is one of only five players in the conference with double digit home runs and one of just three with double digit home runs and doubles. I don’t see any way that he is not the top bat in the conference, in terms of production. Not bad for a player who, this time last year, didn’t know where he would be playing in a year. 

Adams doesn’t walk much, and, while his strikeout rate is high, it has been decreasing as the year has gone on. Over the last month, it has gone from 25% to 19%, which shows a player who is getting better, even as teams have accumulated more information and video on him. His defense is not the strongest either and being a first base only prospect always hurts value. Adams is not widely viewed as a top prospect for this year’s draft. The top player in the state of Iowa is Daniel Tillo, a left handed pitcher from Iowa Western JC. I have yet to hear Adams name in talks or see him on any top 100 lists.

For Adams, it has been a long trip, but a good one. While I hate to see any baseball program fold, especially one like North Dakota, which has a history that is longer than the time period North Dakota has been a state, there is little doubt that everything has worked out for the best for Adams. Adams doesn’t generate a lot of headlines, but I would expect him to end up not only being drafted, but also the top player hitter drafted from Iowa. He will be competing with teammate Nick Gallagher, a starting pitcher, to be the first Hawkeye taken in the draft.

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