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McAdams brings the power with his bat and arm

McAdams brings the power with his bat and arm
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Cleveland Indians outfield prospect Josh McAdams has been in the organization for close to a year now. Around this time last year he was selected in the 7th round of the draft straight out of Calhoun High School in Georgia, and has enjoyed the ride since signing with the Indians.

“It is quite an experience,” McAdams said in a recent interview with the IBI. “I didn’t know what to expect.”

Currently, McAdams is playing out in Arizona in extended spring training getting ready for short season leagues which kick up in about two weeks. While he has yet to play in an affiliated game this season, he has been hard at work out in Arizona improving on his limitations and showing why he has so much upside as a prospect.

“I am working on making more consistent contact and cutting down on the strikeouts I had last year,” McAdams said.  “Just being more selective. They want me to be a power hitter and to do that you have to make consistent contact, so that is what I am trying to do by putting a better swing [on the ball] and simplifying everything and just let everything take care of itself.”

A year ago at this time - before all the adjustments and expectations that come with professional baseball - McAdams was finishing up high school and preparing himself for the draft. He spent the spring showcasing his talents on the field in the hopes a team would select him high.

“It was very invigorating,” McAdams said about the draft.  “I had so much anxiety; I didn’t know what to think. I had so many teams talking to me and I tried to keep a level head on my shoulders and try to stay humble with the whole thing. The Indians picked me up and it has been awesome ever since. Just having good family support at home and having an awesome organization that works with you day by day has really helped me to mature and become a better ballplayer already.”

For as happy as McAdams is to be an Indian, he was actually quite surprised they drafted him.

“Actually, the last team in all of Major League Baseball that I thought would draft me was the Cleveland Indians,” McAdams said.  “The pre-draft workout that I went to with them there was only like three players at the workout. I did not think I would be here at all.  I talked to the Rangers and Blue Jays and they were really heavy on me and talking top three or four rounds, so I was really excited about that. But I am here and I am thankful for the opportunity and am going to make the best of it.”

The 19-year old McAdams had an inconsistent pro debut at rookie level Arizona last season. The inconsistency was not unexpected given his age, so it was great that he signed quickly and was able to log 36 games in his first pro season. He only hit .225 with no homers, 20 RBI and .614 OPS, but he was able to get that transition out of the way going from high school to the professional ranks which is often hard for young players.

“The season was kind of rough for me as I really didn’t know how to handle it,” McAdams recalled.  “Coming straight out of high school seeing guys at 85-86 MPH and then going straight into 94-95 MPH was tough. The day to day grind was an unbelievable change for me to experience.”

McAdams used the offseason to get his body stronger to better withstand the pounding of playing every day from March through the middle of October. With spring training, extended spring training, short season ball, and then Instructional League in the fall, this will be a long first full season for him.

Also, not only is McAdams looking to stay strong all year, but he is working on his development plan as set by the team in their meeting with him at the outset of spring training.

“They sat me down in my on-on-one and told me exactly what they want me to focus on throughout the year,” McAdams said.  “What they wanted to see me improve on, be it with hitting or footwork in the outfield. I am willing to listen and I love learning. I have definitely settled in and I know exactly what I have to do to be a better baseball player in general. I am going full force and not looking back at all.”

McAdams has the makings of a prototype corner outfield prospect with his size and strength, his good power potential, his athleticism, and his plus throwing arm. That power bat and power arm combination is especially intriguing.

“In the outfield I hit 98 MPH, but off the mound [in high school] I hit 95 MPH tops,” McAdams said.  “In the outfield I have that big crow hop and all that momentum for me. I have been taught ever since I was young to just rare back and let it go. So that is what I have been trying to do ever since.”

The throwing arm is definitely special, and is something where if McAdams struggles with the bat that the Indians could try him out as a pitcher down the road. He would be open to that, but of course prefers to make it as a position player.

“My junior and senior year I was actually the region Pitcher of the Year,” McAdams said.  “I am very thankful I don’t have to worry about all that stress, but I definitely like to have that in my back pocket just in case anything goes wrong. I like to consider myself as a ballplayer. You can put me anywhere on the field and I will do my absolute best to help the team out any way possible.”

For now, McAdams just wants to focus on his development plan for this season which is to cut his strikeouts down some, increase his walks, improve his pitch selection, and just be a better student of the game. He also needs to cut down on some of the errors in the outfield, not physical ones but mental mistakes he has made which don’t show up in the box score.

McAdams will have a chance to work on those things for real when the numbers begin to count here in a few weeks once rookie level Arizona and Single-A Mahoning Valley get underway with their season. He is not too concerned about which affiliate he will play with as he just wants the opportunity to play and get better.

“I have no idea at all where I am going,” McAdams said.  “I am just going to go wherever they feel I am needed the most and I am going to be absolutely grateful for the opportunity. If I am here in Arizona again I am going to work my tail off and hopefully end the year somewhere else. But I am not going to complain wherever I am at because, bottom line, I am playing professional baseball and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

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