Former Rock baseball star and current St. Louis Cardinal Matt Adams had his college number, 25, retired by Slippery Rock University Saturday, becoming the first baseball player in school history to earn that honor.
“It’s just a proud feeling seeing your first former player to make it to the Major Leagues,” Rock head coach Jeff Messer said. “We always knew that he was going to do, he was always a great hitter from day one and it was such a nice recognition that the school gave him. It’s an honor for Matt, not just for our program to be recognized for making it to the Major Leagues.”
As a member of the Rock baseball team from 2007-2009, Adams was a standout athlete who earned a number of honors, including first team All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference selection three times, the 2007 PSAC-West Rookie of the Year, 2009 All-PSAC player of the year, and three All-American selection.
Adams appeared in 137 games over his three seasons with SRU, batting .454 with 133 runs scored, 27 home runs, 148 RBIs, a .746 slugging percentage, and an on-base percentage of .525.
At the end of his final season with Slippery Rock in 2009, Adams declared for the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft where he was selected 699 overall in the 23rd round. During his journey to the big leagues, Adams spent three years in the St. Louis farm system before finally joining the big club. He hit for a .316 batting average over 373 games in the minor leagues, mashing 82 home runs and driving in 295 runs batted in.
On May 20, 2012 and at age 23, Adams made his debut as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals against the the Los Angeles Dodgers. During his debut, Adams went 2-4 with one run scored in a 6-5 loss.
Having been member of the Cardinals for three seasons, Adams enters 2015 with a career .283 batting average, 34 home runs, 132 RBIs, and 109 runs scored. With St. Louis, Adams was a part of two Cardinal playoffs, having reached the National League Championship Series twice and the World Series once. After losing the World Series to the Boston Red Sox in 2013, Adams and the Cardinals returned to the playoffs where they eventually lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.
“Watching him in the games is always nail-biting,” Messer said. “But it makes watching the games that much more interesting. When he does well you get excited and when he struggles you feel a little bad for him.”
Before his team was eliminated from the 2014 playoffs, Adams hit the biggest home run of his baseball career in game four of the National League Divisional Series against the Dodgers. In the seventh inning and the Cardinals down 2-0, Adams hit a three-run homer off of the eventual 2014 National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw to give St. Louis the 3-2 lead and sending the franchise to its fourth consecutive NLCS.
Adams is not the only former Rock player in a Major League system, as former SRU pitcher Lou Trivino is currently in the Oakland Athletics farm system, as well as second baseman Will Kengor who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2014.
“Just like we do with Matt, we always like to go online and see how those guys [Trivino and Kengor] are doing,” Messer said. “We are always hoping that they’re doing well, it’s just that Matt has gone above and beyond anything that we ever dreamed.”