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Matt Adams, grew up in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania. According to an interview with Fox Sports Midwest he was a big fan of Ken Griffey, Jr. After graduating from Philipsburg-Osceola High School he attended Slippery Rock University where he holds the career batting average record, .473.
Adams was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 23rd round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. In 2011, Adams was the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year and the Texas League MVP after hitting .300/.357/.566 with 32 home runs and 101 runs batted in. He was also selected to represent the Cardinals in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game but had to miss the game due to an injury.
Prior to the 2012 season, Baseball America considered him the ninth best prospect in the Cardinals organization. On May 20, 2012 Adams was called up to the Cardinals after Lance Berkman was placed on the disabled list. He went 2-for-4 in his major league debut. He hit his first major league home run on May 27, 2012. Adams played in 27 games with the Cardinals where he hit .244 with 13 RBIs and two home runs before returning to Triple-A Memphis.
Splitting time between the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds and the Cardinals, Adams hit 18 home runs with 50 RBIs as he batted .329 with a .624 slugging percentage. However an elbow injury brought an early end to his 2012 season. The injury, which had been a nagging problem much of summer, finally had to be treated surgically in mid-August to remove a bone spur.
Adams led the Cardinals in spring training RBI with 17. It was in spring training that Adams also earned his nickname, "Big City." According to teammate David Freese, several players had been searching for a nickname for the 6 ft 3 inch 230-pounder, when one day someone shouted out "Big City." Said Freese: Well he's a big boy that can rake (the ball). I guess it hit because the guy can flat-out hit. Adams started off the regular season on the St. Louis Cardinals roster as a bench player. He caught the attention of the fans and media early on when in his first ten plate appearances he hit three home runs, two doubles, three singles, and a walk, with a batting average hovering between .640 and .700.
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