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The Daily Tar Heel

Adams Remains Humble As He Prepares for MLB

The junior from Laurinburg hit .370 for UNC in 2002 and plans to skip his senior season for professional ball.

Russ Adams, a former North Carolina baseball player, is no different. On June 4, the first day of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft, Adams tried to listen to the broadcast over the Internet but was unable to get a signal.

So he ran over to his uncle's house.

But by the time he got there, the draft was on the 20th pick. Adams went 14th to the Toronto Blue Jays.

A Blue Jays representative called him about two minutes after the first round ended to tell him the news, Adams said.

But Adams says he's not concerned with expectations that come with being a high draft pick.

"I think it's a role that I'm very willing to accept," he said. "I've been ready and waiting for a long time now."

In Adams, the Blue Jays are getting one of the top amateurs in the country. Adams led the 2002 Tar Heels in batting, walks and stolen bases. He was second on the team in runs scored, hits, doubles and triples. He is also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country by the MLB Player's Association.

Adams said he's known since high school that he had a shot at the pros. Although he also played football, basketball and golf, he found baseball afforded the greatest opportunity.

"Fortunately, things have worked out great for me," Adams said. "I've got myself in a position to play baseball on a major league level, and that's been my dream since I was very young."

In addition to playing pro baseball, Adams said attending UNC was another dream come true.

"Since I was a young kid, Carolina was the place I wanted to go," he said.

Adams admits that he had a good career as a Tar Heel, but one thing that would have made it better -- a trip to Omaha, Neb.

Adams played in two NCAA regional tournaments but said he was disappointed that he never played in the College World Series. In this year's NCAA regional tournament, No. 14 North Carolina battled the fourth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks three times but could not advance.

In the bottom of the ninth, in the elimination game on June 2, Adams, representing the tying run, stepped to the plate with two outs. He worked a full count only to ground out to end the game -- and the Tar Heels' season.

"A lot of kids dream of being in that situation," he said. "Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't."

Adams credits his father and two brothers as people who pushed him to succeed.

"I grew up battling, competing with and against them," he said. "That's the one negative of this profession, you don't get to spend a lot of time with your family."

As of Tuesday, the Blue Jays are 27-34, fifth worst in the American League but have won 10 of their last 11.

So when can we expect to see Adams in the Great White North?

"I haven't put a timetable on it," he said. "If I do the right things, just work hard and try to keep getting better ... then time will take care of itself."

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