Jason Adam’s ascension through the Royals minor leagues continued late Thursday when he was promoted to Class AAA Omaha from Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
Adam, the team’s fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft out of Blue Valley Northwest High School, won Texas League Pitcher of the Week honors earlier this week after a 12-inning scoreless streak in two starts.
On Wednesday, Adam tossed two innings of scoreless relief (making it 14 consecutive zeros), and he will pitch in a relief role with the Storm Chasers.
“My goal long-term is to be a major-league starter,” Adam said, “but for now whatever I need to do get to the big leagues and help the team out, that’s all I really want to do.”
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Adam said he usually begins warming up for a start 90 minutes before a game, but that’s obviously not possible as a reliever.
“In the bullpen, you get the call, hear your name and it’s ‘OK, let’s go,’” Adam said with a chuckle. “It’s a nice adrenaline pump. You get ready quick, your arm feels good, because you’ve got that adrenaline pump. It’s a more aggressive mentality (in the bullpen).”
Adam, 23, was 4-8 with a 5.03 ERA and 89 strikeouts (third-most in the Texas League) against 30 walks this season with the Naturals. Adam had a brutal start to the season, carrying a bloated 6.59 ERA in his first 11 starts as opponents batted .311 against him.
But in his last eight games, Adam had a 3.09 ERA and allowed three earned runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts.
“(Northwest Arkansas pitching coach) Jim Brower worked with me a ton as well as Vance (Wilson, the manager) as far as making minor mechanical changes of keeping through the ball a little more, so I was able to get swing and misses on my fastball in the zone. I didn’t have to be perfect with it.
“That just set up my off-speed stuff. It becomes sharper, and I’m more comfortable with it getting in better pitcher’s counts.”
The Royals took note of the improvement.
“He has pitched very well lately, and this promotion is coupled with a move to the bullpen,” Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo wrote in an email. “He has the weapons to pitch out of the pen, and it’s a good time of year to see it. However, we do still see him as a starter in the long run, and he will return to a starting role in 2015.”
Adam, who had committed to Missouri before signing with the Royals, started in Class A Kane County in 2011, pitched at Class A-Advanced Wilmington in 2012 and was promoted to Northwest Arkansas a year ago.