Contact Form

    News Details

    Angels’ Jo Adell has opportunity to finally deliver on his potential
    • July 6, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — For the past several years, there have been two versions of Jo Adell.

    There is the Jo Adell who consistently crushes monster homers in the minors, while flashing elite speed, all in the package of a chiseled 6-foot-3, 215-pound mountain of an athlete.

    And there is the Jo Adell who has a career big-league average of .217 and has struck out in 35% of his plate appearances, a guy who at times seemed lost in the outfield.

    Now 24 years old and in his final season in which he can be optioned to the minors, Adell is back in the majors with the Angels. Mike Trout’s injury has given him at least a month of opportunity to show the baseball world that his time is now.

    Adell, however, doesn’t quite see it that way.

    “To be quite honest with you, I think I’ve had enough moments now to where you could say that I’m a factor,” Adell said. “I can be in a lineup and play and help a team win. I don’t really think it’s ‘Can I be here?’ It’s not a ‘happy to be here’ thing. I’m more than ready to help and do my job.”

    The proof will emerge over the next four to eight weeks, with Trout recovering from surgery to remove a fractured hamate bone.

    Adell will go into the outfield mix with Taylor Ward, Mickey Moniak and Hunter Renfroe. Manager Phil Nevin said Adell will play against lefties and righties, and he’ll get time in center field and left.

    So far Adell has nine plate appearances in the big leagues this season, including four last month when Renfroe was on the paternity list. Adell is 3 for 8, with a double, triple and homer. He’s struck out three times and walked once.

    The homer, on June 8, was a 451-foot rocket that left his bat at 117.2 mph. That’s the hardest any Angels player – including Shohei Ohtani – has hit a ball this season.

    At Triple-A this season, Adell hit 23 homers, tied with Salt Lake teammate Trey Cabbage for the most in the minor leagues. On June 20, Adell crushed a ball 514 feet, which was the longest homer recorded by StatCast at any level of professional baseball. StatCast has been tracking homers in the majors since 2015, but only since 2021 in the minors.

    “I have the type of power where I don’t necessarily have to square it completely to hit it out,” Adell said. “But I squared that ball completely.”

    The blast was yet another example of the kind of power that led to Adell being the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft. By 2020, he was a consensus top five prospect throughout the sport.

    But the shine began to fade once Adell reached the big leagues as a 21-year-old in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He hit .161 with a .478 OPS, and earned a lifetime spot on blooper reels when a ball hit off his glove and went over the fence for a rare four-base error.

    Ever since then, there has a been a distinct split between Adell’s potential and what he’s actually produced in the majors.

    There are always supporters who insist that Adell is on the verge of “figuring it out,” and this year has been no different.

    Adell arrived in spring training with significant muscle added to his frame. He had also spent just about every day of his winter working out at the Angels’ complex in Arizona, with an emphasis on his defense. He was noticeably better even last summer in the majors, and by all accounts he’s no longer a defensive liability. Nevin said he wouldn’t need to replace him for defense late in games.

    “He’s proven himself as a quality major-league outfielder,” Nevin said. “I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

    Adell said part of that transition has been gaining a better understanding of what plays he shouldn’t even be trying to make.

    “The big thing is, knowing when the play is a routine play,” he said. “Every once in a while, there’s a time to be a hero, but for me it’s about keeping runners out of scoring position.”

    There is a notion around Adell that clearing the defensive stress from his mind can help unlock some of what’s hindered him offensively. One of the issues he’s had at the plate, according to one person who has followed him closely, is trying too hard to make up for certain perceived deficiencies by hitting the ball 500 feet every time.

    While Adell has hit 94 minor-league homers, leading to a career .549 slugging percentage, he’s also struck out in 26.8% of his plate appearances.

    This season, Adell’s strikeout rate was exactly the same as his career rate. Adell responded to a question about strikeouts by saying that he doesn’t want to change too much of who he is with two strikes.

    “When you get into two-strike counts, or down in the count or whatever it is, what I found out is if I try to over-shorten my approach, what I end up doing is I end up expanding the zone,” Adell said. “So it’s important for me to stay as aggressive as I would 0-0 in two strikes and still look for those pitches that I can drive.”

    Adell added that he wants to “treat 0-2 like it’s 2-0, still looking for a pitch to handle. Obviously you’re going to have to hit some pitches and foul off some pitches you don’t want to, but I’m still looking for a pitch I could do damage on.”

    That mindset is fine with Nevin.

    “I still want him to take an aggressive swing, whether it’s 2-0 or 0-2, with a chance to hit the ball in the seats,” Nevin said.

    The Angels and Adell seem less concerned with him striking out by taking a huge cut with two strikes as they are with him getting into those two-strike counts by swinging at pitches out of the zone. They’ll keep the strikeouts if they can add walks. Besides getting on base more, that means he’ll be swinging at better pitches, which means more damage when he does make contact.

    To that end, the results over the past month have been encouraging. Adell drew 17 walks – with 17 strikeouts – over his 100 Triple-A plate appearances since June 1. It’s also worth remembering that Adell has a chance to turn any walk into a “double” with his speed.

    “The walks have gone up over the past couple of weeks for me, which is something that’s been big,” Adell said. “Getting pitches that I can drive. That’s going to be something that I’m going to continue to focus on, getting that pitch and getting that ‘A’ swing off, putting the ball in the air.”

    A rival scout who watched Adell this season at Triple-A said via text there are still some “major issues” recognizing and tracking offspeed pitches. He added that Adell’s power makes him “dangerous,” and that he played “good defense.”

    Overall, the scout said he is firmly in the same place as just about everyone else on Adell, dazzled by the potential but apprehensive about the holes in his game.

    “I’m still concerned if he will ever make the overall adjustments to be a daily impact player at the major-league level,” the scout said. “He’s the ultimate tease with risk, but one cannot ignore the potential and he’s still relevant.”

    All of the ideas about what Adell can be will evolve quickly over the next month or two. Playing under the bright lights of the majors, and facing the best pitchers in the world, will provide more clarity about which Adell is the real one.

    “You’re going to see a lot of Jo,” Nevin said, “and I think he’s ready for this opportunity.”


    Angels (RHP Griffin Canning, 6-3, 4.29) vs. Dodgers (TBD), 7:10 p.m. Friday, Dodger Stadium, Bally Sports West,  830 AM.

    Related Articles

    Los Angeles Angels |

    Is baseball’s Shohei Ohtani worth a $701 million contract?

    Los Angeles Angels |

    Angels continue slide, get swept by Padres

    Los Angeles Angels |

    Angels keep Anthony Rendon on active roster for now

    Los Angeles Angels |

    Hoornstra: Revisiting MLB’s preseason storylines highlights the need for speed

    Los Angeles Angels |

    Shohei Ohtani allows 5 runs while dealing with blister in Angels’ loss to Padres

    ​ Orange County Register