Jake Adams is tied for the national lead in home runs in 2017, and he's also tied the Big Ten Conference's all-time single-season record.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — The MLB Draft’s second day was kind to multiple Hawkeyes.
In a span of minutes, Iowa first baseman Jake Adams and shortstop Mason McCoy went off the board in the sixth round Tuesday. Adams went No. 181 overall to the Houston Astros and McCoy No. 188 to the Baltimore Orioles, marking the first time since 1992 that Iowa produced two single-digit round picks in the same year.
Adams is Iowa’s highest selection since 1999, when pitcher Wes Obermueller went in the second round to the Kansas City Royals. MLB.com lists the slot value for Adams’ pick at $249,600, and he could get even more as an incentive to sign instead of returning for his senior season. The Iowa slugger said he hasn’t firmed up a decision yet, but is leaning toward signing.
“Most likely I will sign,” Adams told HawkCentral. “But as of right now, we’re kind of just letting everything settle down a little bit.”
Adams thundered onto the scene in his first season of Division I college baseball, slugging a program- and Big Ten-best 29 homers in 61 games en route to conference player of the year honors.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder took the NCAA lead for good with two monster blasts in the Houston Regional, further cementing this year’s dominance on college baseball’s biggest stage.
“Beginning of the season, I set a goal that I was going to hit 12-15 home runs at the D-I level,” Adams said, “and after I got past 15, I was, like, ‘OK, let’s shoot for a little bit more.’ And after I started hitting more and more, I was, like ‘OK, this is an unreal season I’m having.’ I never imagined I’d ever hit 20-plus home runs in a season.
“So it’s just kind of an unbelievable feeling.”
That power rocketed Adams up draft boards as Iowa's postseason surge continued. With Adams at the offensive controls, Iowa won 39 games, secured the program's first Big Ten Tournament title and reached the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.
"This guy swings for the fences," MLB.com’s Jim Callis said on the draft broadcast. "When he connects, it goes a long way. There are going to be some questions. It’s a long swing — how’s that going to play when you’re seeing 95 (mph) when you get to the upper levels of the minors? — and it’s a bat-only guy. You’ll try to play him at first — there’s no real alternative — might be more of a DH.
“But tremendous, tremendous year for Jake Adams.”
McCoy, meanwhile, bounced back in 2017 after surprisingly going unselected in the 2016 draft. He hit .328 with 55 runs scored and 18 doubles en route to second-team All-Big Ten honors, also slicing his strikeout percentage down from 21.5 percent (48 in 233 at-bats) to 9.9 percent (25 in 253 at-bats).
"I guess the best way to describe it would just be surreal," McCoy said. "I was sitting there today, trying not to basically sit there and wait. My mom wanted me to keep busy, and so I was constantly doing stuff. And then I got the call from the Orioles right around the beginning of the fourth, and the guy was basically asking about my signability and stuff. And he goes, 'I think it's going to happen today.'
"... And the about six picks before the Orioles had their picks (in the sixth round), the scout called me and said, 'I think we're going to do it. I think we're going to get you in this round.'"
So McCoy sat there refreshing the draft feed. Then, it happened.
"It's like a weight lifted off my shoulders," he said.
Both Adams and McCoy agreed that Tuesday's results further cement Iowa baseball's recent ascension under Rick Heller, who's now produced 13 draft picks in four seasons.
And there could be more to come on Day 3.
"It's really going to boost Iowa a little bit," Adams said. "More kids will say, 'Hey, if I come here, I've got a potential chance to go in the top 10 rounds.'
"So it's just fun to set that bar for the upcoming people who are coming into Iowa."
Dargan Southard covers preps, recruiting, Iowa and UNI athletics for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Email him firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.