While the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the St. John Fisher College baseball team from playing games in the spring of 2020, it didn’t stop Adam Zebrowski from striving to be the best player he could be.
“I had a lot of time, and I was doing the right stuff,” the CBA graduate and Albany native said Wednesday. “I was eating the right things and lifting and working on my game, and I made a big jump in my ability.”
For the catcher who played only a handful of games in his first two collegiate seasons, 2021 has represented more like a giant leap.
Zebrowski’s junior season at St. John Fisher included 20 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .500 batting average, and the pro scouts certainly took notice. On Tuesday, the 20-year-old was selected by the Atlanta Braves in the Major League Baseball Draft.
“Since you know about pro ball, that’s what you want to do,” the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Zebrowski said. “I woke up today thinking, ‘As soon as I sign a contract, I’ll be a pro player.’ It’s so crazy. It’s a great feeling.”
Zebrowski, who was named the Division III National Player of the Year earlier this summer by both the American Baseball Coaches Association and D3baseball.com, was taken with the 397th pick in the 13th round by the Braves.
“Adam Zebrowski is a large player from a small school being drafted for the power in his bat,” Atlanta Braves minor league and draft analyst Matt Powers wrote on the Talking Chop website. “He put up crazy numbers, but did it against weaker competition so there is likely to be a learning curve as he sees whether or not he can do it against better pro arms.”
Zebrowski joined Marc Iseneker (28th round by the Texas Rangers in 2016) and Dan Jurik (25th round by the Atlanta Braves in 2010) as Major League draftees from St. John Fisher.
“I was at home getting ready to go to Saugerties for a doubleheader,” said Zebrowski, who was one of four members of the Albany Dutchmen selected in the 2021 MLB Draft. “When I got the news, I didn’t know how to react. My whole family was there, and I give my parents [Colleen and Gary] and my brother [Brendan] a lot of credit for helping me through this and my whole career.”
Zebrowski’s career hit overdrive during this past spring when he led all Division III players with his 20 homers and 70 runs batted in, and was second in the nation with his .500 batting average. In 38 games the Empire 8 and New York Region Player of the Year collected 74 hits and had 22 multi-hit games, and scored 61 runs.
Zebrowski pointed to Cardinals head coach Brandon Potter and assistant coach Morrie Silver as key figures in his monster season that also included a 31-game hitting streak, at least one base hit in 37 of the 38 games, and a pair of five-hit games.
“They did a lot of good work with me,” Zebrowski said of Potter and Silver “I added strength, but I give them a lot of credit as far as improving my mental side of hitting. I was thinking more about [the opposing pitcher’s] sequencing. What guys are throwing. What’s their out pitch.”
Zebrowski closed out his junior season with a .594 on-base percentage and a .933 slugging percentage. He struck only 13 times in 148 at-bats, and behind the plate he committed only two errors and had a .992 fielding percentage.
“Pro interest started to pick up at the end of the year,” said Zebrowski, who helped the Cardinals (31-7) win Empire 8 regular season and tournament championships and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. “During the playoffs and regionals more scouts showed up, and I was invited to some pre-draft workouts.”
Zebrowski played two games before a knee injury ended his freshman season, and was limited to seven games as a sophomore due to an eye injury and then the COVID-19 shutdown.
“We are beyond happy for Adam and his family,” Potter said in a St. John Fisher press release announcing the drafting of Zebrowski. “He earned this and all of the accolades that came his way throughout the year. He put in the time, effort and energy to achieve this and we couldn’t be prouder. We are all excited to watch him live out his dream of playing professional baseball!”
Shenendehowa graduate Ian Anderson was drafted by the Atlanta Braves as the third pick in 2016, and made his Major League pitching debut in the 2020 season. Anderson pitched in the regular season and also in the playoffs that year, and is a key member of the Braves rotation this season.