Riley Adams! Riley Adams! First-year catcher leads Canadians to championship


Riley Adams

Three months ago, Riley Adams was selected in the third round, 99th overall, by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. Now, he’s celebrating a championship season after leading the Jays’ Short Season A affiliate, the Vancouver Canadians, to the Northwest League title.

The Canadians defeated the defending NWL champions, the Eugene Emeralds, 2-1 in game four of the finals, winning the series three games to one in front of a sold-out Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium crowd. The title returns to Vancouver for the first time since 2013, when the C’s capped off their third straight NWL title.

“Positive relationship with parent club, good playing conditions, amazing fan support from the city, excellent clubhouse, and getting hot at the right time were the keys to success,” Canadians General Manager J.C. Fraser said.

Adams played a significant role in the success of the Canadians. He finished his first professional season leading all NWL catchers with a .305 batting average, .374 on-base percentage and 16 doubles. He hit three home runs and batted in 35 over 52 games.

Like Adams, the Canadians were dominant, winning the first half championship and then sweeping the Spokane Indians in two games before winning the championship against the Emeralds in four.

“The Canadians had a balanced attack offensively, and timely pitching that included more than 40 consecutive innings of scoreless baseball heading in the postseason,” Canadians Director of Communications and Broadcasting Rob Fai said. “Riley Adams not only hit .305 this season, but managed a pitching staff as well as I have ever seen.”

Said Adams: “Managing the pitching staff is simply about building relationships with pitchers on and off the field. We have to build that trust that they know when I put a sign down, they trust that it is the best pitch for them.”

Adams was not only a leader at the plate, but in the field as well. Fraser cites Adams as the one player who stood out the most to him, as well as the player who led the charge with the bat, praising his “leadership style and maturity.”

“I strive to be a leader by example and do everything I can to help my pitchers out,” Adams said. “Catching certainly requires leadership in order to be successful, but I do not make a conscious effort to be a leader. I simply try to play my best for my pitchers and be a good teammate for them.”

Adams is certainly a good teammate. When told about the praise from Fraser and Fai, he didn’t hesitate to point out other reasons why the team was successful instead of talking about himself.

“In my opinion, the biggest reason for our team’s success was the way we came together as a team,” he said. “We had a lot of different guys from all over the place and guys from extended spring training and recent drafted players. The way we all came together was something special.”

In respect to which players stood out the most, Adams said, “I can’t say there was one player that stood out amongst the rest. Everyone contributed equally to the team’s success. When someone was struggling, there was always someone else there to pick them up.”

Adams began practicing karate when he was three years old, and earned a second-degree black belt at the age of 13. Although he made clear there is nothing specific about karate that has to do with the way he approaches baseball, it still plays a pivotal role in the kind of player and person he is today.

“I just believe karate helped shape the person I am,” he said. “Aside from all the breaking boards and sparring, karate teaches discipline, and that discipline is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”


Adams has a good chance of moving up in the ranks of the Jays organization within the next few years, battling the likes of Danny Jansen and Max Pentecost on the catcher depth chart, but he is not too concerned about where he will be in the future, or even next year.

“I try not to worry or think about where I’ll be next year,” he said. It is not my decision where I’ll be playing next year. All I know is that I’ll be playing baseball and I can’t wait to go out and complete to win another ring.”

The Canadians set a team record for attendance this season, and continue to be one of the best sporting atmospheres in Vancouver, as well as in all of minor league baseball, so it is no surprise that Adams had nothing but great things to say about his first stop in professional baseball.

“Vancouver was amazing, I could not have asked for a better place to begin my professional career,” he said. “The fans are out of this world. Their support and loyalty is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The fans made going to the stadium every night fun and exciting. I had an amazing time with an amazing group of guys and I was proud to be a part of the Canadians.”

If Adams does return next year for another season in Canadians colours, there is a good chance the club will be contending for another Northwest League title at The Nat.

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