Unique path leads De La Salle product to USPBL

By: Timothy Pontzer | Warren Weekly | Published August 13, 2018

 Eastside Diamond Hoppers outfielder Pat Adams waits on a pitch during the 2018 USPBL All-Star Game July 7 at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica. A 2014 graduate of Warren De La Salle, Adams earned a spot in the league after starring at Macomb Community College and Wayne State University.

Eastside Diamond Hoppers outfielder Pat Adams waits on a pitch during the 2018 USPBL All-Star Game July 7 at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica. A 2014 graduate of Warren De La Salle, Adams earned a spot in the league after starring at Macomb Community College and Wayne State University.

Photo by Donna Agusti

UTICA — Pat Adams labels himself as a late bloomer.

A Warren native, Adams currently stars as the right fielder for the Eastside Diamond Hoppers in the United Shore Professional Baseball League. However, his journey to becoming a professional player was a unique, winding path that included a brief stop on the gridiron while overcoming plenty of self-doubt.

A 2014 graduate of Warren De La Salle, Adams played three sports for the Pilots.  

“Honestly, I wasn’t very good at baseball in high school. I rode the bench as a junior and really only started playing halfway through my senior year,” Adams recalled. “I was maybe a .250 hitter. I wasn’t big into stats because I sucked. But I loved baseball more than anything, and I always knew I wanted to play, but I wasn’t getting the looks.”

Following his friends, he joined the football team as a senior, having a standout season at wideout. Adams described the choice occurring on a whim, but something that proved crucial to his spot in the USPBL.

“All the seniors were on the football team, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I ended up having a really good year and surprising a lot of people,” Adams said. “I still would rather do baseball than football, but Albion (College) offered me. I was headed down the path for football and went up there early before the school year for the summer camp.”

Making the change
Adams spent less than two weeks at Albion before reconsidering his athletic aspirations.

“Nothing against Albion, I just knew football wasn’t for me,” Adams explained. “I ended up coming back home. I heard Macomb (Community College) was having tryouts for baseball, and I wanted to give it one last shot.”

Adams made the team, starting for Macomb for two seasons. His performance led to an opportunity down the road in Detroit.

“At Macomb, it was one of the first times where I got the opportunity to play every day. I’m very thankful for what they provided me,” Adams said. “After two years, I was looking at Madonna and Wayne State. The coaches were awesome at Wayne and gave me an amazing opportunity.”

With the Warriors, Adams batted .236 as a junior but rebounded with a .341 clip in his senior season. He had high praise for his coach at Wayne State, Ryan Kelley.

“Coach Kelley gave me playing time and stuck with me. That gave me the opportunity to grow and get better,” Adams said. “At Wayne, they worked on developing me, not just as a player, but as a student and a man. Kelley really emphasized that development as a person being the most important thing.”

In addition to his high batting average as a senior, Adams stole 24 bases in his final collegiate campaign. Despite that success, he thought that was the end of the line.

“I was really proud of that season, because I thought I finally showed what I could do,” Adams said. “But I still thought I was done with baseball. I knew I wasn’t going to get drafted, and I didn’t think I had a chance in independent baseball. Kelley really encouraged me to go to the USPBL tryout, and I figured I’d give it a shot since it was so close.”

To the next level
Adams finished the season at Wayne State May 16 and then spent the next three weeks working out before his tryout at a college showcase held by the USPBL.

Paul Noce, the manager of the Diamond Hoppers, was impressed with what he saw from Adams.

“First of all, Ryan Kelley is a very good friend of mine. I knew (Adams) was a kid who was coming out of a great program,” Noce said. “What really intrigued me about him was his athleticism. He’s got a great body for baseball and is tall. He needs to get a little stronger, but man can he run.”

Adams earned a spot on Noce’s roster and was penciled in as an outfielder, sometimes batting leadoff while other nights batting eighth. Noce also pointed to the age of Adams as a key attribute. Adams recently turned 22 years old.

“You always want left-handed hitting athletes like him. What is nice on top of that is he’s young, so there’s even more room to develop,” Noce said. “We’re here to develop these kids, and he’s started off really well.”

At press time, Adams was batting .226 through 18 games with 14 hits, two doubles, a home run, five RBIs and seven walks. Despite playing less than 10 games at the time, Adams earned a spot in the USPBL All-Star Game July 7.

“That was a definite surprise,” Adams said with a laugh. “My mom and dad were going up north that weekend, and I said maybe I could make it up there since we had the All-Star break. But I put together a good hitting streak and I was added to the team. Maybe it was beginner’s luck, but it meant a lot to me.”

Hungry for more
Noce said he is impressed with what Adams has brought in his short time in the league.

“He started off really well and showed that he’s a great prospect, which is what we’re looking for around here,” Noce said. “He wants it. He’s never content, which is a good thing.”

Adams said he appreciates the guidance and grace given by Noce.

“Even when I’m struggling, Noce has confidence in me. It makes me feel a lot better about myself,” Adams remarked. “I’m getting the chance to play every day, so I can’t complain. I’m still a developing player, and I feel like I haven’t grown into my body yet. This league is great for me, and I love the opportunity.”

Looking back and ahead, Adams is thankful for his time at De La Salle and the journey that led him to Utica. While he’s thankful to have made it this far, Adams said he is far from being content.

“It’s funny, because of my friends at De La Salle, that’s really how this all started. My good friends played football, so I joined the team and then everything just happened from there,” Adams said. “I want to keep playing as long as I can. I’m not here just to say I was a professional baseball player. I have plans in the offseason to get bigger and stronger. I need to put on 15 to 20 pounds to have a shot at the next level and increase my arm strength. But I’m focused on getting better and developing with the ultimate goal to play affiliated baseball.”