Astros have hopes for Adams’ power

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Adams, who led NCAA Division I with 29 home runs last season, was taken by the Astros in the sixth round (181st overall) on the second day of the MLB Draft on Tuesday. The 21-year-old set records during his only season in Iowa and is a semifinalist for USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s best player.

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on at noon ET.

“We think he’s for real,” said Mike Elias, the Astros’ director of scouting and player development. “If you dig up his junior college numbers, he hit a ton of home runs at that level, too. Our scouts liked him, and we’re going to see if his power plays in professional baseball.”

Adams was the unanimous Big Ten Player of the Year and the only unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection this year. He led the NCAA in homers in his first season of Division I baseball while ranking third in total bases (183), fourth in slugging percentage (.747), and seventh in RBIs (72).

Hawkeyes coach Rick Heller admitted that he had some reservations about Adams while recruiting him out of Des Moines Area Community College, concerned how his swing would play in Division I, but he said Adams is more than a one-dimensional hitter.

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“He’s hit a large number of home runs everywhere he’s been, and when he came here, the thing that you wouldn’t have known — even the Astros and the Astros’ scouts and their player personnel people are going to find out — Jake is a hitter’s hitter,” Heller said. “He can make adjustments, pitch to pitch. I watched him hit changeups out, breaking balls out, sliders out, left-handed breaking balls out. I mean, all season long, everybody tried to pitch him a different way.”

Adams admits that he’ll have to tighten up his swing.

“I think I can make that transition just fine,” he said.

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There have been questions about Adams’ defense and where he would play if he reaches the big leagues. Heller said Adams had a long way to go with his footwork when he arrived on campus last fall and is better athletically that he’s given credit.

Adams says not to shortchange him.

“A lot of people are like ‘OK, he’s unathletic, he can’t really do this or do that,'” Adams said. “They had me at 6-2, 250, and they think I’m slow, but I’m actually 230 and I can run pretty good. I don’t get a lot of credit for my defense, but that’s all right. It’s my bat — I knew that was going to get me to where I wanted to be.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for M/ since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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