Friday, May 18, 2018

Getting to Know Astros LHP Brett Adcock

Meeting the Buies Creek team on the road last weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina had its challenges. The schedule is a bit more compressed than at home so my time with LHP Brett Adcock was short. But he talks really fast (transcribing him was no fun at all!) and apparently he talks a lot too. "Ask any of these guys. They tell me to shut up every day so I talk too much," said Adcock. He's also a bit of a character, but saying that a lefty pitcher is a character is probably a little redundant.

Brett Adcock - May 2018
Photo by Jayne Hansen

We started with Adcock's pitch repertoire, "Four-seam fastball, curveball, changeup, slider." He has good depth on his curveball, his best offspeed offering. "I tend to favor my curveball quite a bit. Still a lot of development going into the changeup and the slider, but I'm still confident throwing all of them," said Adcock. His fastball sits in the low 90's.

When asked to give a scouting report on himself, Adcock told me, "I compete really well. Something I could work on is command of everything. I kind of get a little wild here and there. When I'm going good, it's fine. But when I'm not and I really have to fight through some stuff, it's definitely the command that's the issue for me. Between my junior year (of college) and last year, I definitely lowered (the walk rate) quite a bit, but there's still a lot of fine-tuning to do and obviously to get (the walks) down is a key thing. That's my kryptonite basically."

Drafted by the Astros in the 4th round in 2016 out of the University of Michigan, Adcock was behind the eight ball early as he appeared in only three games for Tri-City that year before a torn meniscus suffered while fielding a bunt shut down his season. Adcock viewed the injury as more opportunity than setback, "Obviously it was a bit of a setback but everybody is going to have them and I just used it as an opportunity to try to change my body and when I got rehabbed and got healthy to kind of change my ways a bit. And it's been working out pretty well so far, just going to try to keep on moving from there."

Adcock is aware of the dearth of lefty pitchers on the current Astros roster and while understanding the opportunity that presents, he's not about to get ahead of himself. "It's obviously a big thing, but you've still got guys in front of me that are very, very good. This organization is stacked with everybody and to move up, you have to really throw well. You just kind of wait and do your own thing and when you get called, you get called. It's just how our organization works because there's a lot of great talent in this organization. You've just got to wait to get your opportunity and when you do, you have to capitalize," said Adcock.

On the rare day off, you will likely find Adcock on the golf course. "We've got a good group of pitchers that are big golfers. We're a big golf group ... me, [Carson] LaRue, [Brandon] Bielak, [Kit] Scheetz, [Justin] Ferrell when he was here ... we go golfing quite a bit. A lot of golf rounds in the free time is what we kind of do."

Another Astros minor leaguer that Adcock is known to hang out with in the offseason is Hooks OF Carmen Benedetti. Both Adcock and Benedetti were drafted by the Astros in 2016 as teammates from the University of Michigan squad and they had the opportunity to catch a couple of World Series games together last fall. Adcock said, "It was a lot of fun. Actually, Carmen came over for a couple of games and we watched it. Definitely a lot more fun being a part of the organization that's in it. You get a little bit more hyped about it. We had a good time with that. We got to enjoy it. It was crazy watching it on TV. I can't imagine being there." Benedetti would also be the Astros minor leaguer that Adcock would least like to face in the batter's box because "if he gets a hit off me, he would never let me live it down. Ever."

That brief conversation with Adcock left me with a few blanks that Drew French, the Buies Creek pitching coach, was kind enough to fill for me. French said of Adcock, "His first short season got cut a little bit by the knee injury and he spent some time at Quad Cities and here last year. I think being here again to start this year, he's got a little more comfort with the league, how hitters react and how things happen because obviously it's still a jump even though it's not quite the AA jump, but it's still a jump. But his delivery is the one thing. His mechanics and his delivery are the things that have caused him to have failures as well as have successes. It's a lot of feel based stuff and when he puts in the work and he takes that work to the game, usually you can see it in the results because he throws a ton of strikes and his stuff is pretty good and so if it plays inside the strike zone, then he's going to have a lot of success. Whereas walks have kind of been his bugaboo and he's able to cut some of that stuff down early on in the year so we're really really excited on the path that he's on."

French continued, "I think we had an even better plan for him in Spring Training this year so we were able to alleviate some of (the command issues) out of the gates instead of getting here and it being kind of rocky, having to kind of go back to square one. The credit goes to our whole organization for anyone who touched him during Spring Training and in the offseason to get him going in the right direction early."

And according to French, the key to Adcock's success and continued development is simple, "Finding his best delivery. Being athletic and just being able to time things up accordingly. His fastball plays really, really well with the carry and the shape that he has and that just needs to play through the zone. It needs to be something that he can challenge hitters with early in the count and be able to kind of expand the strike zone to put guys away. His changeup and his slider are still a work in progress, but he's got a curveball that's really outstanding. We feel like the slider ... and the changeup, the quality of the pitch(es) are two things other than the delivery that he needs to continue to focus on and harness as he goes in order to be able to (challenge) both right-handed and left-handed batters."

And there you have it. Short, sweet and to the point. Adcock left me with the impression of someone who is friendly, outgoing, gregarious and upbeat, someone who other players gravitate toward. He has a good sense of humor and isn't afraid to laugh at himself and take a good jab from his teammates (like Carson LaRue who was nearby and dogging Adcock through most of this interview). That's the personality part of the equation. The performance part of the equation has been equally promising in his start to the 2018 season. Through his first seven games (four starts), Adcock is 3-0 with a save, a 1.80 ERA and a 0.967 WHIP in 30 innings. The walks are still on the high side, but I have faith that the Astros game plan for him will help to smooth out that aspect of his game. Once that happens, Adcock should move quickly.

Thank you for your time, Brett, and best of luck as the season continues to unfold.

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