Edison grad Wolf prepares for minor league career

Mark Hazelwood • Jun 13, 2018 at 10:00 AM

MILAN — In hindsight, Adam Wolf probably should have shown more emotion.

But there will be plenty of time for that.

Last Tuesday, Wolf was selected early on Day 2 of the Major League Baseball Draft — selected 135th overall by the Detroit Tigers in the fifth round of the three-day, 40-round event.

The 2015 Edison graduate had completed his third season as a standout pitcher at the University of Louisville just 48 hours prior to the life-changing phone call.

“I was in the locker room at school with five or six of my friends and some of the training staff,” Wolf said. “We knew it was probably going to happen soon, as we had a little bit of an idea based off some information.

“I got the call about five minutes beforehand that I was going to go to the Tigers,” he added. “But it was just kind of silence at first when the phone call was over.”

But when Wolf’s name was announced publicly — the reaction among his group of friends was swift.

“As soon as my name was called, we all kind of went nuts and were yelling and screaming,” he said. “It was the perfect moment. But no, I didn’t really show any extreme emotions — and I almost felt like I should have. It was surreal.”

After two years as a reliever at Louisville in 2016 and 2017, the 6-foot-6, left-handed Wolf was shifted to the No. 1 starter role this season for the Cardinals.

Facing the ACC’s best this season, Wolf went 8-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 16 starts. In 102 2/3 innings, he struck out 109 batters with 29 walks, allowing 30 earned runs on 80 hits.

For the season, Wolf allowed three or fewer earned runs in 13 of his 16 outings this season. He studied former New York Yankees legend and closer Mariano Rivera to add the fastball ’cutter’ — a type of pitch that breaks toward the pitcher’s glove-hand side as it reaches home plate — to help his transition back to a starting pitcher.

“From the get-go, it was an absolute honor to be able to throw on Fridays for Louisville,” Wolf said. “Some really great guys had that role in the past. But the first thing Coach (Roger) Williams (Associate head coach and pitching coach) told me was that I don’t be the next Brendan McCay (No. 4 overall pick of 2017 draft). Just go out there and be Adam Wolf.

“And I thought, ‘that’s a little easier. Alright, I can do that.’ But I loved it. It was so much fun going into Friday knowing it was our game,” he added. “You’re on a set schedule, so you can lift more weights, throw more bullpens, and really just stay as sharp as I could be. It was an awesome experience.”

On May 31, Wolf earned his first career All-America honor as a third team selection by Baseball America. He also earned All-ACC second team honors

Wolf ranked third in the ACC and 40th in the nation in ERA. The 109 strikeouts are the ninth-highest single season total in school history. During his three-year career with the Cardinals, Wolf went 15-2 with a 2.21 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 157 innings pitched.

In 2017, Wolf finished his sophomore season at Louisville with a 6-0 record and a 2.18 ERA as he helped the Cardinals reach the College World Series. He had one save and 35 strikeouts in 24 total appearances and 41 1/3 innings pitched. He made three scoreless appearances in the NCAA tournament, finishing with five strikeouts and allowing only four hits in eight innings — including 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief against TCU in the CWS.

This season, the Cardinals were ranked in the top 25, won 45 games and were eliminated in a winner-take-all NCAA regional game vs. Texas Tech, who went on to reach the CWS this week.

On June 1, Wolf pitched seven innings and got the win in Louisville's NCAA regional opener over Kent State, a 13-6 victory for the Cardinals. Louisville then lost to Texas Tech, bounced back to beat the Golden Flashes in an elimination game — then saw its season end on June 4 with an 11-6 loss to the No. 9-ranked Red Raiders.

“The way it finished, nothing to hang our heads about,” Wolf said. “We went to a very tough place to play and put together as good of game as we we could have.

“Reaching the ACC title game, that was actually the first time we had done that in my three years,” he added. “I’m not satisfied at all with where we finished, but it was a great year.”

At Edison, Wolf was 10-1 with a 1.25 ERA with 104 strikeouts to 12 walks as a senior, which earned him All-Ohio first team honors in Division II, along with the Sandusky Bay Conference and District 9 Player of the Year.

As a junior, Wolf was 5-1 with a 1.01 ERA and 55 strikeouts for the Chargers. With his size and velocity on his pitches, Wolf had his pick of Div. I college programs, but ultimately chose Louisville over Indiana, N.C. State, North Carolina, Virginia and Vanderbilt.

When he was drafted, Wolf posted a photo on his Twitter account of him as a young boy playing Little League baseball, with the description: “Yesterday a childhood dream became a reality. Still haven’t found the words to describe how grateful I am for the opportunity.”

A huge Cleveland Indians fan as a kid — like most in the area — Wolf actually didn’t think much of his draft prospects for quite some time.

“I feel like any kid who plays the sport at any age back home, you want to reach the highest level and play for the Indians,” Wolf said. “I’d love to be best player to ever play. But as I grew up, I never really thought it was a very realistic possibility. Even as a sophomore in high school, I didn’t think I was going to end up playing at a high level in college.”

But some things admittedly fell in place, and Wolf got the opportunity to play at an elite program in Louisville.

“It wasn’t on my mind, even going to the College World Series last year,” he said. “I just kind of figured if I played well, maybe something will happen.

“But great things fell in place once again, and when I found out this was a realistic possibility, — it was unbelievable,” Wolf added. “I’m really just incredibly blessed to have this experience. It’s been amazing.”

Wolf is expected to sign with the Tigers soon, and he will report to the team’s Single-A short-season affiliate, the Connecticut Tigers in Norwich, Conn. The New York-Penn League team begins its season on Friday.

Should Wolf be able to climb the ladder in the Tigers system, he’ll potentially pitch for nearby affiliates in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Low-A), Erie, Pa. (Double-A) and Toledo (Triple-A).

“For now I’ve just been spending as much time as I can with my family,” Wolf said. “I go down to get my physical soon, then I’ll work out with the team and then head to Connecticut.”

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