Ambidextrous Adam Frank

Ambidextrous Adam Frank

by David Villavicencio

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Like most outfielders in youth baseball, Adam Frank was bored.

A natural left-handed thrower, Frank was limited to playing first base or the outfield and he did not particularly enjoy the lack of activity a 12-year-old outfielder typically experienced in a game. So, Frank decided he was going to put himself right in the heart of the action; he was going to become an infielder.

“At such a young age, there’s not a lot of action going on in the outfield, so I wanted to play the infield,” Frank said. “So, in like the sixth grade, I just dedicated myself to keep throwing righty every single day. It took like three years and I had some help, but I was able to get good enough where once I got to high school, I was able to play righty and lefty.”

You read that correctly, Adam Frank is ambidextrous.

The versatile player is a rare ‘Bats Right/Throws Both’ jack-of-all-trades that Miami head coach Gino DiMare is excited to use in a variety of ways this coming season.

“His versatility is huge. He’s unique because he’s a guy with a skill that I don’t think we’ve ever had,” DiMare said. “When he’s in the outfield, he throws left-handed and when he’s in the infield, he throws right-handed and he throws pretty well, too. He’s probably a little better left-handed throwing the ball, which makes sense because that is his natural side, but he’s a guy that can play both corner outfield positions and he can play third and second so Adam absolutely gives us a lot of flexibility.

“Having a guy like Adam becomes even more valuable now with COVID where there is a possibility that someone could miss time because of that,” DiMare continued. “A guy like Adam gives us some flexibility and some extra depth because of his ability to play so many different positions. What’s most exciting is that what puts him in a lineup is his bat because he can really swing the bat. Guys can get hurt and there’s a pandemic going on and those things are going to create opportunities for guys to play and he probably as much as anybody on the team has a great opportunity because of his flexibility play a lot of positions.”

Frank is the quintessential team player, willing to play anywhere his team needs him.

“It’s nice that I can help in multiple ways,” Frank said. “I’m not stuck in the outfield or first base just because I’m lefty. I can play all over the field and whatever they need, I can do my best at. I don’t have to worry about only playing the outfield or only playing the infield. It all depends on what the coach sees as the best fit for the team.”

Frank has come a long way since those boring afternoons in the outfield back home in Saddle Brook, N.J. A former standout at Don Bosco Prep, he saw a transformation to his career when he suffered an injury as a senior.

“It’s weird to say but what really contributed to a lot of my success is actually tearing my ACL,” Frank said. “Before I tore my ACL in my senior year of high school, I was very lazy and all I cared about was hitting. But after going through all the therapy just to come back to play, it really kick-started my career to focus more, work harder and achieve my goals. Tearing my ACL and then recovering from it and working harder after it definitely helped get me on a path to Miami.”

The journey to Mark Light Field began at Farleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., where he encountered a former Hurricanes star on the Knights’ coaching staff.

“At FDU, we had Bryan Radziewski as our pitching coach,” Frank said. “Bryan was a very, very good pitcher from Miami and he was drafted in the ninth round and played for Team USA and all that kind of stuff. So, he was the pitching coach at FDU my redshirt freshman year and he got me into the Northwoods Summer League. Miami found out about me in the Northwoods and followed me throughout the summer. So, coach Bryan was a major help in getting me to Miami because who knows if they would’ve ever seen me if I hadn’t played in the Northwoods that summer.”

Frank transferred to Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla., where he posted impressive numbers at the plate. In 28 games with the Hawks, Frank hit .347 with 11 doubles, two homers, 15 RBI and 11 stolen bases. His strong performance led to an offer to join the Hurricanes and Frank’s dream of playing for a powerhouse program was becoming a reality.

“It’s definitely a dream of mine to be a Hurricane,” Frank said. “When I was younger, one of the only college hats that I had was the University of Miami hat. There’s such a good reputation for the program. I always watched them play Rutgers to start the year and I always knew they were an amazing school. We had one guy who went to my high school, George Iskenderian, who went to South Carolina and then Miami. So, I watched him play when he was at Miami. It’s just a blessing to be part of a program that has a reputation like Miami.”

But Frank is not satisfied with just being a Cane. The 5-foot-11 infielder/outfielder wants to contribute to Miami’s success – just as Iskenderian did in his All-American season for the Hurricanes – and he did a good job of showing what he could do in his first fall at The U.

“He probably swung the bat as good as anybody this fall,” DiMare said. “He hit balls all over the place, which is what a good hitter does. He used the whole field and showed he’s a good line drive hitter. He’s got a high baseball IQ and I just like his mentality so he brings a lot to the table for me to consider as a coach. With his versatility or flexibility, it gives you that feeling when you make an out a lineup that he’s a guy that you can put in a lot of different places.”

His play earned the respect of his new teammates, as well. Frank excelled in the outfield and infield but made the biggest impression with his performance as a hitter.

“Adam Frank, that man is almost like a cheat code,” pitcher Spencer Bodanza said. “He doesn’t miss; every at-bat he’s making contact and he’s putting the ball in play. He’s a guy that when he gets up to the plate, you know he’s going to do something for you. There’s no downside to his at-bats, even when he makes an out. Whether it be a taxing at-bat and he’s running up the pitch count before he does get out, he’s getting eight or nine pitches on the pitcher. Anytime I see him in a two-strike count, the ball is always put in play. He doesn’t miss right now. He’s definitely stood out the most to me.”

While Frank is happy to have made a strong first impression, he believes his success comes from being surrounded by so many talented players that push him to be at his best every day.

“It definitely feels good coming in and working hard and then having good fall,” Frank said. “A lot of that contributes to my teammates, honestly. One through 35, the roster is very, very talented. They drive me and push me every day to just work harder because if you take one rep off, you’re going to get passed up for sure. My teammates have really pushed me to work my hardest. It’s very competitive and it definitely contributed a lot to the success in the fall.”

Frank saw time all over the field in the fall but got an extended look at third base when Raymond Gil suffered an injury that ended his fall. The newcomer rose to the challenge and thrived, putting himself in a position to earn playing time in a variety of spots when the season begins.

“The opportunity Adam had this fall happens all the time in sports. A guy goes down, a guy gets hurt and that opens up a chance for someone to step up,” DiMare said. “One thing I learned from coach [Jim] Morris, when we practice, we do our intrasquad scrimmages where we play three lineups. Playing three lineups means we have a rotation where guys are playing in two different lineups in the field defensively and then they’re hitting in one lineup. That allowed me to see him and other guys, but especially him, in a lot of different places. I can play him at third some — and he did play more third at the end of the fall after Ray went down — and I played him in left and I played him in right and we had some middle guys out, so I put him in at second.”

"My goal is to win a national championship and I am here to do whatever I can to help us do that.”

Adam Frank

No matter where Frank played, he consistently hit the ball and that built confidence as he adjusted to facing Division I pitching.

“I think my adjustment to facing this level of pitching went very well in the fall,” Frank said. “I was actually surprised with how confident I was while facing pitching that is a lot better than what I’d seen before. I think that just comes from the work that I put in during the fall. The pitchers were very good, but I was happy that I stayed confident and I was able to put good swings on the baseball.”

Frank’s transition from junior college to Division I was made easier thanks to his work with Miami’s coaches. He credits the tutelage of DiMare and Miami hitting coach Norberto Lopez with helping him get accustomed to a higher level of play.

“Coach Lopes, coach Gino and all of our coaches put us through drills every single day for us to get better. If we’re not comfortable with something, we put in the work on our own. Getting to learn from them definitely contributes to our success and our development along with our individual extra work and work on the field. That’s what I believe my confidence comes from.”

While Lopez and DiMare have shown Frank how to be a better hitter, his work with infield coach Chris Dominguez has polished his skills at the hot corner.

“My redshirt freshman year I played there in the Northwoods and it definitely took some adjusting to compared to second base,” Frank said. “It’s different than second base but it’s been good. Coach Chris has helped me a lot on mechanical stuff like my body posture when I’m throwing. The coaches here are awesome and they help with whatever we need.”

DiMare appreciates Frank’s veteran approach to baseball. While the Hurricanes brought in the top-ranked recruiting class in the country, Frank is not considered one of the highest-rated players in that class. But the 22-year-old brings a mindset that Miami’s head coach believes is invaluable.

“He’s just more mature than a freshman would be and I think he can handle us putting him at all these different positions,” DiMare said. “You don’t ever hear him complain like, ‘I want to play this position and this is where I grew up playing.’ He’s the kind of guy that tells you, ‘I’ll play wherever I need to play, I’ve played these different positions.’ I’ve asked him, ‘where have you played?’ And he has played a balance of both in the infield and outfield a lot throughout his high school and college career.

“You can tell just with his age and the fact that he’s been at the college level for some years now that he plays with a confidence that maybe not a freshman might have right away,” DiMare added. “He plays with a lot of maturity, he’s a mature kid and that shows. Usually, you see it when guys fail and you don’t see anything faze him. It doesn’t bother him if he has a bad at-bat or makes an error. He’s not going to drop his head and let it affect him. He gets ready for the next at-bat or the next play, so that again shows the age factor and the maturity he has.”

With so many talented players competing against him every day, Frank believes he has already improved significantly since he arrived at Miami. Now he is focused on parlaying that development into success in the spring.

“The competition is awesome and that’s why being ambidextrous helps me a lot because if I can’t win on one spot then I have an opportunity at the next,” Frank said. “Being at a school like Miami and competing for a spot is everything I dreamed of. Just imagining playing for a school like this has always been a goal of mine so I’ve got to take the opportunity I have and make the most of it.”

Frank is already trying to build off his strong fall, choosing to stay in Miami over the winter break to work out and train in optimal baseball weather.

“I love it down here. The weather is beautiful,” Frank said. “You don’t have to worry about the cold like that’s why I’m still here and that’s why I came back after Thanksgiving. At home, I’d be locked up in a facility somewhere. Down here, I’m able to go onto the field and hit, use the weight room and everything. Miami, in general, is beautiful and the weather is perfect for baseball. It’s crazy to be a part of this team and I’m so glad I am here.”

Miami’s season is just a few months away and Frank is eager to get back in action for real games for the first time since the pandemic cut everyone’s seasons short in March.

“This is definitely the most excited I’ve ever been to start a season,” Frank said. “It’s crazy that a few years ago I’m watching all these guys play on TV and now I’m finally able to be a part of it. The first time I step on the field, I’m definitely going to have a little nerves just from playing at a big-time school. But I am really excited for the opportunity to be here and be a Hurricane. I can’t wait for the season to start. My goal is to win a national championship and I am here to do whatever I can to help us do that.”