Freshman Feature: Florida Native Adam Saks Eager to Make an Impression
“The first memory I have of playing baseball is going to the cage with my dad and older brother when I was about three years old,” freshman Adam Saks recounts. “It started from there really.” The “it” Saks is referring to, of course, is his baseball career that has led him to the hilly landscape of Ithaca, New York.
Saks started with the sport at a young age, nurtured by his baseball loving family. His older brother always played, and both were coached by their father. Saks’ mother was his biggest fan, as she kept score at every single game. Even though his father is no longer his coach, they still talk shop about baseball.
A native of Delray Beach, Saks comes from the baseball hotbed of South Florida. He describes an “ultra competitive” baseball background, where kids are throwing hard and playing 12 months a year. While many young kids are tossed into the crucible, transplanted from other areas, changing teammates and coaches often, Saks benefited from some old fashioned continuity and development. He stayed with the same core teammates and coach for years, dating back to a ten and under all star turned travel league team.
Saks attended Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, but it was not a baseball move because his family valued academics first. Although it may not of have been a sports decision, baseball at the school was no slouch. Saks played with several teammates who also went to Division I schools, including traditional powerhouses such as Alabama, Duke, and Clemson. Like any other level of play in South Florida, high school ball was at an extremely high standard.
Saks came to Cornell after what he describes as the “crazy process” of recruiting. While baseball was always a priority, Saks was drawn to the “unique” Hotel School. In addition, he felt the Big Red coaches were different because they were interested in getting to know him as a person, not just a ballplayer. Saks committed early to Cornell after receiving an offer during his junior year, and he wasted no time preparing himself.
“Being a Division I athlete is everything I hoped and wished for. It’s been a dream for me,” Saks beams about his limited collegiate exposure thus far. “It’s awesome!”
Saks is also excited about the level of commitment and details this stage of baseball brings. It means focusing on small nuances and mechanics, all the little things that add up. Concentrating on solely the pitching instead of pitching, hitting, and fielding. “Everyone is around the same talent level,” Saks comments. Therefore, when everyone competing is around an identical degree of skill, little details can make a big difference.
With just three main pitches, Saks describes himself as someone who needs good command of all his offerings in order to be effective. Like other pitchers who aren’t physically imposing or overpowering, the art becomes a thinking man’s game for Saks. He has studied the pitching philosophy of Greg Maddux, being adaptable and changing instead of stagnant and predictable. Saks has to utilize every inch of his 5’9” frame to generate velocity, but is hoping to add some oomph to his pitches as he gets stronger throughout his time at Cornell.
Saks’ travel league coach had him develop a changeup early so that he could have a breaking pitch without needing to learn a curveball, as the snapping wrist motion a slider or curve demands can be injurious for young arms. Saks has been tossing his changeup with an old school fork ball grip for years now, and this throw remains one of his three core pitches.
Similar to most young players, Saks is still developing — he only recently became specialized as a pitcher. Saks is getting stronger and refining his game since he’s not sure what his role will be yet, and he just wants to contribute to winning as much as possible. What’s clear from talking to Saks is that he’s excited about baseball and thoroughly enjoying the process.
Clearly, Saks is eager to make a difference and play some ball. Every aspect of the game seems exciting to him. He explains, “This year, the culture and environment in the locker room is exciting,” he says, adding that he’s “loving it.” Like many freshmen, the best is still to come from Adam Saks.