SF Giants prospect Kwan Adkins may be disappointed not to be playing minor-league baseball right now, but the outfielder is finding plenty of ways to make an impact.
In West Baton Rouge, Lousiana, one sport reigns supreme. It is the foundation of the culture and seems to course through any local’s blood. While native son Kwan Adkins has reached the ranks of professional baseball, it’ll always be second fiddle to Louisiana.
“Football in Louisiana is king. There is no bigger sport in Louisiana than football,” explained Adkins in an interview with Around the Foghorn. At one point in his life, Adkins thought his future was right there on the football field.
A three-sport high school athlete, Adkins always excelled at baseball and football, starting in both as a freshman. Hoping to play both in college, he set out to perform and wait for the offers to come in.
Adkins was no slouch on the baseball field, a two-time all-state player, but football coaches were showing interest first, “I wanted to play both, but it got to a point where during my junior year I was having so much success on the football field that baseball was taking a backseat to football. The offers and scholarships were coming in a lot faster so I thought football was going to be my future.”
Some offers soon trickled in on the baseball side of the ledger and a few schools offered him a spot on both teams.
During his senior football season, Adkins still wasn’t sure what his future held. Then, on senior night, one injury gave him clarity, “I tried to make a move [in the hole], but I sprained my MCL. It scared the living crap out of me. I remember laying down on the ground panicking because I thought I tore my ACL. I remember that next morning I woke up in so much pain, I looked at my dad and said ‘I don’t want to play football anymore.'”
Some professional scouts had begun to take interest in Adkins and he thought he had a shot to be drafted. Ultimately, his name wasn’t called and he headed a few hours from home to play baseball with the Northwestern State Demons.
The Demons football coach had recruited him in high school as well and made clear they’d always have a spot for him. Adkins wasn’t ready to return to the gridiron quite yet. He did make him one promise, “I told him ‘If I don’t get drafted after my junior year of college, I’ll come play football for you,'” Adkins explained.
His first three seasons in Natchitoches didn’t go as well as Adkins had hoped. His struggles against Division-I pitching led teams to shy away from him during the 2017 MLB draft. “When I didn’t get drafted, I called the coach and asked him ‘Is that football gig still there?’ and joined the team.”
While he didn’t play a prominent role on the football field, the break from baseball turned out to be the key to unlocking his talents. As a senior, everything came together. Starting all of the Demons 62 games, Adkins batted .321/.396/.404 and performed well enough for the Giants to take a chance on him in the 30th round of the 2018 draft.
His pro debut wasn’t a smooth transition, batting just .182 in the Arizona League. “My whole day was structured in college. Then I got to pro ball and it’s just ‘Get to the field at 2 o’clock.’ So I had to learn how to adapt my routine and develop my everyday process,” Adkins said.
By the end of the season, he felt like he’d begun to make the adjustments he needed. That success carried over to 2019. At Low-A Salem-Keizer, Adkins stole 10 bases and held his own with a solid .269/.346/.413 line.
Adkins was probably in line to get his first taste of full-season ball. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent cancellation of the minor-league season forced Adkins to return home in March. That hasn’t stopped him from keeping busy.
“My offseason is honestly busier than my in-season because I substitute teach in high school, I coach high school football as well, and I’m in the process of getting my real estate license… and right now it’s a lot like the offseason,” Adkins said.
To those who’ve been around Adkins, it’s no surprise to see him taking leadership roles as a coach and teacher. P.J. Hilson, ranked the 26th best prospect in the Giants organization, called Adkins an “older brother figure” for him when he’s gone through slumps in an interview with Around the Foghorn.
While many prospects around the game are solely focusing on refining their craft, it takes a person of Adkins’ character to take on so many commitments.
School started on August 10th back in-person. Adkins believes “there are pretty good plans in place to limit the spread of the virus.” At the same time, medical professionals have been critical of in-person reopenings nationwide.
Regardless of the ethics of in-person reopenings, Adkins is trying to do right by West Baton Rouge’s youth. Coaching is especially important to him. He explained, “being able to give back my football knowledge to a lot of the high school guys… then I’m doing the right thing for the community I live in.”
With such a busy schedule, he has had to get creative to stay in good baseball shape. Aside from his workout routine, Adkins and fellow Giants prospect Javeyan Williams have been participating in the Louisiana Sandlot League to try and stay ready.
Adkins credits the Giants organization for how they’ve handled the pandemic. “While it’s obviously been difficult, They do what they can to make sure everyone’s accommodated… They do a really good job of keeping in contact with us and making us feel like we’re still apart of the organization,” he said.
Coming into the year Adkins had a straightforward goal, “I was coming into the season trying to let my talent show. My main goal for this year was to leave no doubt. I’m the player you drafted for a reason,” Adkins said. That opportunity won’t come in 2020.
Adkins took a huge step forward the last time his focus was away from the diamond. While his primary concern at the moment is giving back to the community of West Baton Rouge, the Giants surely hope further success awaits him in pro baseball.