Diamond Jack Kyle Adorno slashed 40 hits as a sophomore at A.L. Johnson in Clark.
Gushing is the word that comes to mind when Kyle Adorno’s coaches discuss his abilities in the outfield.
The kid can go get it, as they say in the business.
Adorno will take that bottomless well of athletic ability with him next fall to Kean University, where coach Neil Ioviero and his staff will continue to groom him into an elite college defender.
Adorno committed to Kean during the first week of December, following an impressive summer that proved an effective antidote to the lost COVID spring of 2020.
“Kean reached out to me in August and September,” said Adorno after a Spring Break practice at his high school, A.L. Johnson in Clark. “They saw me play in the summer and coach Ditro and coach Kennedy talk to them.” Steve DiTrolio is Diamond Nation’s recruiting coordinator and coached Adorno at the 16U level. Dave Kennedy is the Johnson head coach.
“I think Kyle will do very well at Kean,” says DiTrolio. “I believe he will make an immediate defensive impact as he is one of the best pure center fielders in the state. His jumps and reads on the ball are exceptional.”
Adorno’s discussions with Ioviero and Kean assistant Mike Matera bore fruit and by December the graceful center fielder had a collegiate home.
“I love Kean’s baseball facilities,“ said Adorno. “I played on their field my sophomore year.” Adorno and his Johnson teammates reached the Union County Tournament championship game in 2019, so they got to play at Kean’s Jim Hynes ‘63 Baseball Stadium in their county semifinals and finals.
If Adorno’s first experiences at Hynes Stadium are any indication of future success, Ioviero and his staff will love what is to follow. Adorno went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs in a 10-7 semifinal round victory over Summit. Then he was 1-for-2, drew a walk and was hit by a pitch in Johnson’s 4-0 loss to Scotch Plains-Fanwood in the final.
Adorno’s ability to get on base and use his electric speed have been quite a complement to his all-around game as a Diamond Jack at Johnson. He slashed 29 hits and batted .426 from the bottom half of the Johnson lineup as a freshman before earning the promotion to the top of the lineup his sophomore campaign. Adorno exploded at the plate that 2019 season, ripping 40 hits, scoring 34 runs, driving in 14 and batting a robust .444. Sitting at 69 career hits, he has a very good shot at pulling off a rare milestone, 100 career hits in just three high school seasons. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Adorno chasing history from the No. 3 spot in the Johnson order this spring.
“Kyle is so under the radar,” says Kennedy, a star at Montclair State who reached Triple-A in the Colorado organization in 1996. “Not too many players can play center fielder and run the bases like him. He actually glides as a runner. He has tremendous instincts for the game. I think he’s on the verge of really stepping out there. Neil will enjoy having him.”
The Diamond Jacks family at Diamond Nation has certainly enjoyed Adorno’s stay at its Flemington, N.J. facility, pretty much from the moment he walked onto the property as a precocious 14 year-old.
In fact, Diamond Jack coach Travis Anderson, who played A-Ball in the Atlanta organization before spending another seven years in Independent ball, says Adorno is the type of player he’ll use as a barometer to future outfielders he coaches.
“Kyle is a true center fielder who can play all three outfield positions well,” says Anderson. “When you talk about an elite defender, Kyle is that guy. His speed translates to the game. And when you move him to the corner outfield positions, you see no adjustment period. When he was 16 he was already a college level outfielder. I can see I’ll be comparing kids to him in the future.”
That high praise coming from the demanding Anderson.
When asked, Adorno says his best baseball asset is, “my speed.” But speed alone is just a solitary weapon. But when deployed along with his well-documented instincts and love for the big play, Adorno is indeed a versatile and dangerous defensive player. He has been clocked at a lightning quick 6.4 in the 60-yard dash.
“I think I’m strong at tracking balls,” he says. “I love when people think something is a hit and I dive and make a catch. And I love throwing runners out on the bases.”
Adorno and his Johnson teammates are just 12 days from their April 19 season opener at Linden. It’s a baseball season that carries with it so much unpredictability statewide. The loss of the 2020 season to those junior and sophomore classes leaves teams with a seemingly short time to build consistency and chemistry.
“Kyle is so important to us for that reason,” says Kennedy. “We lost a ton of guys. He’s with a group of guys who played as sophomores and we have a lot of others we need to develop. This is not a problem exclusive to us. Everyone is trying to find their identity. So, we are fortunate to have a player like Kyle to help us formulate that.”
Adorno’s trademark speed and athleticism has turned heads at showcases. Two summers ago, his 60-yard dash time of 6.62 was the fastest at a Prep Baseball Report showcase. Adorno is a more robust 5-10, 160 now and stronger courtesy of his fall and winter workouts.
“I’ve worked on my hitting this winter,” he says. “Just getting my reps in and trying to smooth out my load. I got a lot of cage work in and worked out every day at a gym. I’m feeling stronger. I’ve been hitting the ball hard.”
Adorno played for coaches Anderson, DiTrolio and Kevin Cust during his four seasons as a Diamond Jack. “I felt like they made our teams like a family,” he said.
His high school coach, perhaps, says it best about what resonates with most observers watching Adorno play.
“It’s obvious how much he loves the game,” says Kennedy. “I’m curious to see what his ceiling is as a high school athlete and beyond.”