Brett Adcock may no longer don the maize and blue, but he’s still a Wolverine.
Following an impressive three-year career at Michigan, the Houston Astros selected the 6-foot left-hander in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He was the 127th overall pick out of 1,215 draftees, and now plays for Houston’s Single-A farm team – the Tri-City ValleyCats. Adcock finished his college tenure with a 24-13 record – making him the sixth most winningest pitcher in Wolverine history. In addition to his impressive win total, Adcock ranks fifth in career strikeouts with 256.
Adcock established himself as a legitimate major league prospect in his junior season, when he struck out 100 batters in 14 starts and 15 total appearances. His ability to strike out batters as a lefty – Adcock ranked fifth amongst left-handed pitchers in the NCAA with 11.49 strikeouts per nine innings – appealed to many major league scouts. The interest from the big leagues left Adcock with the humbling decision of whether to finish out his career as a Wolverine, or live out the boyish dream of playing professional baseball.
“It was my time to take my play to the next step,” Adcock said. “I just felt like I was ready to go onto the next level.”
There is a learning curve for any player going from the collegiate level to professional baseball. Adcock recognizes this difficulty, but credits the Michigan coaching staff for preparing him for the next level.
“I feel like the (Michigan) coaches got me ready,” Adcock said. “The coaches definitely know what they’re talking about. They’re Division I coaches, they were hired in part to get college guys prepared for the minor leagues and the pros. They definitely did that for me. Honestly, I can’t thank them enough.”
In fact, he even says the training regimen was more intense in college than the minors.
Nevertheless, Adcock is quick to point out that the level of play is still much higher in professional baseball than in college; day-in and day-out one plays against a team of exclusively the very best collegiate players. But unlike in college ball, where there is a team element, he is constantly competing with his minor league teammates to get a call up to the next level and ultimately a chance at the big leagues.
“When you get to minor league ball you don’t really have a team aspect anymore,” Adcock said. “Everyone is trying to get to the top and everyone is trying to get your job. In college, it’s a team aspect more than an individual one. You’re with those guys 12 hours a day, five to six days a week. We were all together doing the same thing, pushing each other. I definitely miss it, (my advice to my former teammates) is to enjoy it.”
The competitive nature of minor league baseball is simply a part of the process of becoming a professional. Luckily for Adcock, he has a former Wolverine in first baseman Carmen Benedetti going through the process with him.
The two are not only teammates on the ValleyCats, but friends who – after three years playing together – will rely on one another both on and off the field in 2017, during their first full year in the minors.
Adcock saw limited action in Single-A summer ball in 2016, appearing in just three games before tearing his meniscus fielding a bunt. In the summer between his freshman and sophomore years at Michigan, Adcock suffered a similar injury. Having gone through the injury and rehabilitation before gives him confidence moving forward.
“I had meniscus surgery, I had the same kind of injury in college,” he said. “So I knew what was going to happen and how I was going to get through it.”
In order for Adcock to rise up through the minor league ranks, he will have to come back strong from the injury and also improve his game, as about just 17 percent of MLB Draft picks see any time in the majors, according to BaseballAmerica.com. Adcock knows that to succeed at the next level he must stay consistent, throw more strikes and continue to improve.
Despite going from an amateur to a professional, which includes earning a salary, Adcock notes that his mindset hasn’t changed. While it’s an added benefit to get paid, turning pro was never about making money.
“The potential to get paid didn’t play a role (in my decision to go pro) because it’s not just the money,” he said. “You have to love (baseball) and appreciate that you’re not sitting at a desk nine hours a day. You’re playing and having fun doing something you love.”