In 2003, Adam graduated from the Berkeley Carroll School in Park Slope, Brooklyn. During his days at Berkeley, he played his summer ball for the Youth Service League. He also played in the local little league, the 78th Precinct, for which his father is now an umpire.
In 2005, Ottavino was the America East Conference pitcher of the year. And he followed that up with a 2-2, 1.76 ERA summer in the Cape Cod League. But he really burst onto the 2006 draft landscape when he held then-No. 1 Georgia Tech hitless through six innings in his first start of the season. He struck out 12 Yellow Jackets over seven innings, despite losing 2-1. His best start of the year came a month later, when he threw a no-hitter while striking out 14 against another of the nation's highest-scoring teams, James Madison. (Aaron Fitt-Baseball America-June 2006)
In 2007, Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Ottavino as 7th-best prospect in the Cardinals organization. The magazine moved Adam up to #5 in the St. Louis farm system during the offseason before 2008 spring training. But they dropped Ottavino down to 22nd-best in the Cards' farm system in the spring of 2009.
They moved Ottavino back up to #11 in the Cardinals' organization in the spring of 2010. But he was back down again, this time at #27 in the winter before 2011 spring training and at #26 in the spring of 2012.
In 2007, Ottavino's 12 wins ranked second and his 3.08 ERA was third in the Florida State League.
Ottavino, who grew up a Yankees fan in New York. However, his mother, Eve, was a Mets fan.
Ottavino's mother is a fourth-grade teacher, but it turns out she's a sports psychologist as well. "If I have a bad game, maybe my Dad will talk about the strategy of what I did, while my mom will talk about how my mind is doing," Ottavino said. "'How's your psyche? Remember that you're good. Remember all the work you put in.' All those things remind me to stay positive and not get too complicated with things.
"Both of them are always letting me know that I have people behind me that love me."
The dream of making it in the Majors is unreachable for all but a few. Those who are good enough to have a chance must deal with tests along the way. Ottavino, who was a Cardinals first-round draft pick in 2006 but didn't find his footing in the Majors until in 2012 with the Rockies, said his family understood in ways others might not have.
"My father is an actor, mainly a theater actor, but he's been in a lot of everything," Ottavino said. "He's definitely not a star, but he's been working steadily for the last 30 years. (Thomas Harding-MLB.com-5/10/13)
2013: He currently wears number 0 and is one of the few pitchers in Major League history to wear any single-digit number. Adam started wearing the number 0 in youth baseball. The uniforms did not have names on the back. He and his family thought an 0 on his back for Ottavino, was a cool idea.
In 2009, Ottavino pitched for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic.
December 2015: Ottavino wrote and produced a six-minute documentary about his journey back from Tommy John surgery. When his time as a pitcher is complete, he may have a role as a producer. His movie begins with somber music and even sadder shots—like him staring at the field from the top step of an empty dugout on a wet, dreary day. There are also shots of him struggling to get his shirt on with one hand, getting his stitches removed, and pedaling on a stationary bike in a deserted workout room.
Spoiler alert: The filmed, edited and produced by Ottavino ends on a high note, with an aerial view of him giving a hug to someone after tossing a few baseballs in the outfield grass at Coors Field. (Ronald Blum - 2015)
Adam paid particular attention to mental skills—with visualization a key component—and it could be paying off, with six strikeouts in only seven batters faced in his first two regular-season appearances in 2018.
The Rockies and their fans didn't like what they saw during games of Adam, and Ottavino didn't like what he saw when he thought about pitching, so he made proper visualization an important a part of his program -- with the same priority as honing his pitches. What he didn't visualize, however, was success in the sense of sparkling results and stats. "That doesn't actually do me any good," he said. "If I can visualize success, I can visualize failure, too."
Ottavino took time to describe the right, and wrong, visions for his mind's eye.
On "seeing" the hitter and the catcher: "That's where it comes in a little bit pregame. Visualize somebody getting in the box and kind of mentally prepare yourself for what it's going to look like when it matters.
"Even walking on the game mound pregame, sometimes when nobody's around just to see what the visual looks like around home plate, I think a lot of guys do that, so it's not a surprise when you go out there. Even though you've pitched in this ballpark a lot, sometimes you forget exactly."
On locking into the target: "When I'm watching another person pitch on TV, when the catcher sets up, I try to maintain my focus on the catcher's target all the way through the pitch, like on my own. Because that's what you want to do when you're pitching. You want to lock in on your target or your intention, and the trick is to be able to do it all the way through your pitch.
"A lot of times, when you're not going good, you're sure you're looking at the target, but when you start to move and start to throw, it becomes a little blurry."
On pitch paths: "It depends on my pitches. I don't want to give away exactly what I think. But in general I try to visualize the entire path of the ball to home plate, and I try to send it along that path."
On dealing with failure: "There's definitely an embarrassment factor when you expect to do well and you're not doing well, and you fail in front of a lot of people. Certainly, I had some games last year where I was pretty depressed after them. It's hard to look the manager in the eye and tell him you're ready to do it the next day when truthfully you don't feel like you're very good right now."
On re-gaining belief: "It was in the winter," he said. "I did a lot of good work this winter (2017). At some point, I started remembering that I'm talented, and I'm good and my pitches are still there, and it's just a matter of getting to the high level of focus that I had held myself to previously. (I've only pitched in) two games in (2018), I have no idea what the rest of the season is going to hold. Nobody knows. But I know if I do things the right way, I can live with the result." (Harding - mlb.com - 4/01/18)
Free agent reliever Adam Ottavino certainly isn't selling himself short this winter.In an interview on MLB.com's Statcast Podcast, Ottavino said that Babe Ruth would struggle in the modern game.
"I had an argument with a coach in Triple-A about Babe Ruth's effectiveness in today's game," Ottavino recalled. "I said, 'Babe Ruth, with that swing, swinging that bat, I got him hitting .140 with eight homers.'
"He was like, 'are you nuts? Babe Ruth would hit .370 with 60 homers,' and I'm like, 'I would strike Babe Ruth out every time.'
"I'm not trying to disrespect him, you know, rest in peace, you know, shout out to Babe Ruth. But, it was a different game, I mean the guy ate hot dogs and drank beer and did whatever he did. It was just a different game." (Jesse Yomtov- USA TODAY-Dec. 10, 2018)
Feb. 2019: Fast forward a couple months, and Ottavino finds himself in Spring Training with the very team with which Ruth's legend was built -- the New York Yankees. Having reported to Spring Training in Tampa earlier in the week, Ottavino met with the media on Thursday and was asked once again about his bold proclamation:
Would he really send Ruth back to the dugout shaking his head every time? "Probably not," Ottavino conceded. "I was just talking more about the evolution of pitching in the game ... [Ruth] is probably a name I shouldn't have used."
2019: Ottavino will wear No. 0 for the Yankees, becoming the first player in franchise history to sport the uniform number.
June 2006: Adam signed with the Cardinals after they chose him in the first round (#30 overall) in the draft, out of Northeastern University in Boston. His bonus was for $950,000, signing with scout Kobe Perez.
April 3, 2012: The Rockies claimed Ottavino off waivers from the Cardinals.
December 20, 2015: Ottavino and the Rockies agreed on a three-year, $10.4 million contract. Ottavino receives $1.3 million in 2016, $2.1 million in 2017, and $7 million in 2018, avoiding salary arbitration.
Oct 29, 2018: Adam chose free agency.
- January 17, 2019: The Yankees signed Ottavino to a 3-year, $27 million deal.
|DOB:||11/22/1985||Agent:||ACES - Sam & Seth Levinson|
|Birth City:||Brooklyn, NY|
|Draft:||Cardinals #1 - 2006 - Out of Northeastern Univ. (MA)|
Ottavino has a 91-98 mph four-seam FASTBALL, an 89-93 mph two-seam sinker and a tight, power SLIDER that runs away from righthanded hitters, along with a tighter CURVE and a sinking CHANGEUP that is an effective weapon.
Adam will need his changeup to continue to improve so that he can successfully retire lefthanded hitters. His fastball has good arm-side run.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 27% of the time; Sinker 25.7% of the time; Change .2%; Slider 41.7%; and Cutter 5.4% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 38.8% of the time; Sinker 11.5% of the time; Change .1%; Slider 47.2%; and Cutter 2.5% of the time.
Adam has a loose, easy delivery coming from his strong, lanky right arm. He has a little tilt in the back of his delivery that causes him to get under the ball sometimes, but his arm is strong enough to compensate.
During a Cardinals mini-camp before 2008 spring training, Ottavino was encouraged by his calmed-down delivery and improved mechanics. However, Adam lost the consistency with his mechanics for most of the season because he changed things, then couldn't get his normal delivery back.
So, midway through the 2009 season, the Cardinals staged a "delivery intervention," if you will, and Adam pitched better down the stretch. At one time, Ottavino would raise his hands above his head as part of his delivery. Another time he tried to go with the athletic sling delivery that he saw in a video the Cardinals showed featuring Bob Gibson. He often leapt at the plate.
That led to erratic command and results. In 2009, Dave Duncan reached out to Ottavino and suggested a simplified delivery. Ottavino took to it, and took off.
Ottavino needs better command, but the movement on his pitches is so good that Adam can actually aim for the middle of the plate and the life on his pitches will bring him success. He works both sides of the plate.
But Adam needs to become more efficient with his pitches, lowering his pitch count and the number of batters he walks.
Ottavino has a calm demeanor and shows poise on the mound.
Adam's slider has long been known to make a grown man cry. Determined to master his fastball command in 2014, Ottavino stuck with his repertoire. In 2014, he was throwing his fastball for a strike 21.8 percent of the time, as of the end of August, more than doubling his previous career rate.
2015 Improvements: In the last two seasons, Ottavino dominated righthanded hitters, allowing a .218 batting average. Lefthanded hitters, however, hit .333 off him—a 115-point difference. "Unacceptable," said Ottavino.
Closers can't be situational guys. They have to have the arsenal to get out hitters from both sides of the plate. Ottavino didn't have that before. He, however, does now. Given the challenge at the end of last season to find a way to nullify left-handed hitters, Ottavino watched videos, and it wasn't pretty. The bulk of his pitches to lefthanded hitters were on the outer third of the plate.
"Guys would just sit on [the pitch away] and were even hitting pitches off the plate," said Ottavino. "That's how comfortable they were." Ottavino's changeup to lefthanded hitters seemed to have "hit me" stamped on it. And his slider not only broke down into a lefthanded hitter's hitting zone, but was in the mid 80-mph range.
"I tweaked my approach," Ottavino said. Tweaked? That's putting it mildly. Ottavino broke out a cut fastball, which he hadn't used since his days at Northeastern University, and put that changeup on hold.
"It's a new wrinkle," said Ottavino, who joined the Rockies as a waiver claim in 2012. "You are looking at 90, 91 miles per hour with action. I worked on it all spring. I had to have a strategy."
Now, Ottavino not only has the strategy, but he also has the chance to pitch the ninth inning. "It is always nice to be the last guy out there, to get that last out in a game," said Ottavino. "It is something every reliever aspires to do." It is something Ottavino is finally getting the chance to do. (Tracey Ringolsby - MLB.com. - 4/16/15)
August 16, 2016: Adam settled back in as the Rockies' closer, set a club record in a 6-2 win, throwing a scoreless ninth inning to extend his streak to 29 2/3 straight scoreless frames. That mark was also the longest active streak in the Majors.
Ottavino hasn't allowed a run in 35 straight outings dating back to Sept. 6, 2014, eight months before he underwent Tommy John surgery. He returned to the big league roster on July 5, 2016. (Kramer - MLB.com)
Adam thought a good day's work was done. But a call didn't go his way. By the time he actually finished, he had an all-time clunker in a 12-6 loss to the Dodgers.
He thought the seventh ended with his full-count, two-out pitch to the Dodgers' Austin Barnes, but home-plate umpire Mark Carlson called a ball. From there, Ottavino fired a Rockies-record-tying four wild pitches, which accounted for five runs.
He also yielded a two-run Cody Bellinger homer and was charged with six runs in one inning. Ottavino became the first pitcher in the 50 years—as far back as the Elias Sports Bureau could dig—to give up four or more runs on wild pitches in a game. It is known that Ottavino's performance made the Rockies the first team in the live ball era (since 1920) to allow five runs on wild pitches.
"You can call it whatever you want," Ottavino said. "It was pretty pathetic. I've pitched badly before. I need to get to the drawing board and see what changes I need to make." (Harding - mlb.com - 6/25/17)
Best pitch: Ottavino's slider. How he uses it: Ottavino doesn't use his slider the way most pitchers use their breaking balls. He tends to pitch backward, starting counts with sliders and throwing them frequently when he's behind. Ottavino also has tinkered with arm angle and velocity on his slider, and his ad-libbing is partially why the pitch has been so successful.
Using just one name to define every slider he's thrown doesn't do justice to the overall variance. The version of Ottavino's slider that sparks GIFs of hitters buckling at the freakish movement—that's more like a curve from a lower arm angle. It can float in between 76 and the low 80s in mph. His hard slider is 86-87 mph. "It's only one pitch," Ottavino says, "but it's got a lot of different ways I can throw it."
Ottavino said, "It's been my most successful pitch in terms of hits, hard hits, everything. I'm just trying to use it as much, because without it, I'd probably be pretty bad."
Statcast fact: Ottavino used his slider 52.4 percent of the time—it has been devastating as a first pitch. Those first-pitch sliders have been strikes 65 percent of the time.
2018: Ottavino's slider was voted one of the nastiest pitches in baseball by MLB players.
Ottavino throws his slider and his sinker in almost equal measure, and one big key to his rise in relief standing in 2018 was his creation of a cutter that he sharpened in the previous winter with the use of high-speed cameras.
"He uses all three of his pitches," Padres catcher Austin Hedges said. "And when he's throwing his fastball for strikes, he's unhittable."
But Ottavino's improved command of his Wiffle Ball slider -- which, when viewed from behind the mound, seems to take a total left turn as it reaches the plate -- definitely opened eyes. (Anthony Castrovince - 1/08/2019)
As of the start of the 2019 season, Ottavino had a career record of 17-20 with a 3.68 ERA, with 464 strike outs, having allowed 41 home runs and 363 hits in 413 innings.
- May 2008: Ottavino was on the D.L. with a sore shoulder.
July 4–September 29, 2010: Adam was on the D.L., undergoing rehab and therapy to repair a tear in the labrum of his right shoulder.
Ottavino was frustrated by how the organization handled his shoulder injury, and how the perception that he was hurt may have eased his way off the 40-man roster.
April 27, 2015: The Rockies put Ottavino on the D.L. with right triceps inflammation.
May 7, 2015: Ottavino underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
February 18-July 5, 2016: The Rockies placed Ottavino on the 60-day DL for recovery from Tommy John surgery.
May 30-June 9, 2017: Adam was on the DL with right shoulder inflammation.
- May 28-June 14, 2018 : Ottavino landed on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.