SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitcher Jason Adam, 22, is living out one of those boyhood dream experiences by being in the Major League training camp of the team he cheered for as a kid, the Royals.
Adam grew up in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kan., where he played so well at Blue Valley Northwest High School that he was taken in the fifth round of the 2010 Draft by the Royals.
"I grew up going to their games and everything," Adam said. "Obviously, I was playing a ton since I was 8 so I couldn't go to as many games. But they were always my team, back in the Jermaine Dye days. ... He was my favorite player. I never played outfield, but I always liked him."
Adam spent last season with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, going 8-11 with a 5.19 ERA in 26 starts.
"I had a bit of a down year, especially for the first half, but I was happy for the adjustments that were made so we'll see where this year takes us," Adam said.
And what were the adjustments?
"A lot of the mental side of pitching as far as how to read batters, throwing the right pitches in the right situations, taking all that into account and then just refining my pitches," Adam said. "I'm constantly doing that, obviously."
His parents, Doug and Becky, often traveled from Overland Park to watch him pitch in the Texas League. They'd have a much shorter trip, of course, if he played at Kauffman Stadium.
"It's close to the stadium, so if I get up to the big leagues, I can just live right at home," Adam said.
During the winter, Adam and other prospects attended classes at Surprise for tips on how to act in their first big league camp.
"Basically like stay under the radar, take care of your work and there's no such thing as working too hard. You've just got to work smart," Adam said.
It'd be a long shot, of course, for Adam to make the Major League club this year, but the exposure is good.
"Obviously, there's a greater goal, but it's a nice stepping stone to get you there. Keep making steps in the right direction is the goal," Adam said.
Adam is on the side of the clubhouse generally reserved for players coming up from the Minors. But the idea is to learn from the veterans in the other part of the room.
"It's definitely awesome to be here. I love it -- so far," Adam said. "I mean, we're only a few days in. I'm excited to really get started. It'll be an experience."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.