So, last month we checked in on some speculation about UNC football commit Jordyn Adams going to play Major League Baseball instead of coming to Chapel Hill. The case was laid out about why it probably wouldn’t happen, and it alleviated fears that one of the best recruits Carolina signed this year would never suit up for the Tar Heels.
On Thursday, a lightening bolt revived those fears:
My first mock draft of 2018 is now up for Insiders: https://t.co/p9qB05LUVx— keithlaw (@keithlaw) May 3, 2018
Of special note:
18. Kansas City Royals: Jordyn Adams, OF, Green Hope HS, Cary, North Carolina Adams is a two-sport guy, committed to play baseball and football at UNC, where his father is the defensive-line coach; there’s strong interest in him in the late teens and a few spots in the 20s if he indicates he’ll sign and give up football. I’ve heard the Royals all over the place, but mostly interested in prep outfielders and pitchers.
What seemed like idle speculation before now has the power of confirmed scuttlebutt behind it, and now it is time to have a legitimate conversation about whether or not Adams will be in Chapel Hill this fall.
Before we weight the options, let’s start by saying this: Adams has a choice of going to school at a P5 school, playing for his dad in football and a perennial contender for Omaha, or going to a Major League Baseball contender and earning a payday immediately. At this juncture there is no wrong decision, only one that will cause some pain for Tar Heel fans. With that said, let’s explore the benefits of each choice.
Playing for the Tar Heels
If you follow Adams on Twitter, you know that not only did he put his commitment to Carolina in writing, but he’s been a hard supporter of the team since announcing his decision. By coming to Carolina, he gets the unique opportunity to play with his father roaming the sidelines as a coach, albeit at a different position than the one he plays. That alone is something he won’t get if he jumps to MLB.
He also gets to delay his ultimate decision for a little while. Both Major League Baseball and the National Football League have a three-year rule stating that you can’t be drafted until you’ve been in college for three years. If Adams weren’t such a strong high school football player, the decision might have been a little easier. However, Adams has real potential to play in the NFL, and he’s playing a position that can thrive in the Larry Fedora offense. So far three receivers have been drafted since Fedora took over, and Adams is the highest rated of them coming into school.
It’s not just football he’d play, as he’d have the opportunity after the fall to play for the Diamond Heels as well. Carolina’s outfield is pretty seasoned, but there’s no doubt that someone who has displayed the speed and power that Adams had would see the field. The ability to play for such a top-caliber baseball program helped land Adams to Chapel Hill, and three springs playing for Fox might do more for him than three seasons in the minors. There’s also a chance he’d play in the various summer leagues to get work with other top college prospects if he wanted to.
There’s also a benefit that’s difficult to quantify: being able to enjoy college with others your own age. Sure he can always go back to school, but it may mean more to him to be able to enjoy it at this specific time in his life.
Going to college carries a huge risk: injury. Playing both sports increases the risk that Adams suffers a career changing injury in either, which would mean he’d have passed on one big thing, and may not get it back.
Going to Major League Baseball
Have you seen what someone can sign for if they are drafted in the first round in the MLB draft?
No? Don’t worry, I did for you. For those unfamiliar with the MLB process, each team is essentially given a pool of money that they can use to sign their draft picks, and each pick has a rough slot of what it’s worth. Going on Law’s “mid to late round” projection, that translates to $3.6 million at 15 (as a reminder, that’s where J.B. Bukauskas was drafted) down to “only” $2 million for number 30. You have to get into the 60’s to see players who signed for under $1 million.
How many of you could easily turn away seven digits at eighteen? That bonus would be more than enough for Adams to live off of while he went through the minor leagues. A quick look at the other players drafted also shows that the ones who played three years are still toiling in the minors, and Adams may think it’s better for him to go ahead and get the clock started in his earning potential now.
It’s also a life spent playing a game that hasn’t been shown to completely wreck the body, including the head, and one where players on average make more money than football players. The contracts are fully guaranteed, unlike the NFL where contracts are restructured all the time, and players are cut to avoid their salary cap hit growing. There’s also a much better chance in baseball of playing until you are in your mid-30’s, if not later, instead of falling off a cliff in your early-mid 30’s as tends to happen in football.
The flip side to that is that football, while damaged, is still the biggest sport in the country right now, with more potential to earn money outside the game. Yes, plenty of players in MLB get endorsements, but football players, especially gifted offensive football players, have a way of getting on camera and being recognized way more than baseball players. Taking the MLB now path means giving up on football at eighteen, and taking a chance that baseball will be the career for him. Yes, he would get a seven figure bonus, but there’s a chance it’d be his only payday.
The life of a young professional baseball player can also can be a lonely one. Instead of getting the campus life and making friends, you are playing day in and day out to try and rise in the ranks of the minor leagues. The pay is under minimum wage, so while the bonus is great, you’re essentially on your own for living, food, transportation, and so on. It can force someone to grow up real quick, and he may not be ready for it.
A Decision to Make
Short of Adams making a public statement, we probably won’t know what he has decided until the night of the draft. As Law noted, teams are intrigued but they likely won't want to take a chance on a first round pick unless they know for sure that Adams is going to play baseball. If Adams’ name is called, the chances of him coming to Chapel Hill would probably be near zero.
While Carolina fans would absolutely love to have Adams as an option for at least the next three years, there aren’t many people who have this great opportunity. This is a case where there is no wrong answer, and fans should support whichever way Adams decides to go. All we can do now is wait and see what the decision is.