Inbox: How soon can Adell help Angels?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers questions from fans

June 2nd, 2021

ANAHEIM -- After splitting their two-game Interleague series against the Giants, the Angels entered Wednesday with a 25-30 record that has them in fourth place in the American League West and six games behind the first-place A's.

It hasn’t been the start the Angels wanted and it’s been made even worse by Mike Trout’s strained right calf, which will keep him out until July. There’s still time to turn it around, but the Angels are going to need to pitch better and play better defense to get back into contention. The offense has been roughly league average, so there's also room for improvement there.

The Angels have a few players in the Minor Leagues who could come up and help, with the biggest name being former top prospect Jo Adell. With that in mind, here’s the first question of this week’s Angels Inbox.

When do you think the Angels call up Adell?
-- Preston, @PrestonDavey

Adell has shown off incredible power at Triple-A Salt Lake, smacking 12 homers and four doubles with 23 RBIs in 23 games. He's certainly on the Angels' radar and is likely to come up in the next few weeks to help bolster the outfield.

But Adell still has a few things to work on, including his contact rate, as he's batting .238/.294/.634 with 36 strikeouts in 109 plate appearances. It means he's striking out in 33 percent of his plate appearances, which is a rate that would rank as the sixth-highest in the Majors and would surely go up against better pitching in the big leagues. His defense was also an issue last year, but he's shown improvements there, including making several highlight-reel plays in both corner outfield spots. But it's the little things defensively that the Angels want him to work on.

As general manager Perry Minasian said last week, the Angels want Adell to stick in the Majors when they bring him up, instead of having to shuttle him between Triple-A and the big leagues. So they’re making sure he’s fully ready before he’s called up, while Taylor Ward and Juan Lagares have filled in capably in the outfield. Ward is hitting .297/.381/.514 with two homers and nine RBIs in his last 12 games while ranking as a strong defensive outfielder, according to the advanced metrics. Lagares hasn't hit for much power, but is a former National League Gold Glove Award winner (2014) and has been filling in for Trout in center.

Are there any pitching prospects in the Angels' Top 30 who could make an impact for the big league team this year, and if not, who might be the closest outside of Reid Detmers?
-- Kevin, @K24Cao939

One of the Angels’ issues is that they don’t have much in the way of pitching prospects who are ready to come contribute now and improve the rotation or bullpen. Chris Rodriguez has been an elite reliever, when healthy, and he could return as soon as Thursday. The Angels have 15 pitchers, including Rodriguez, among their Top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline, but only lefty Packy Naughton (No. 22) is currently at the Triple-A level. Naughton has pitched well, but he isn’t on the 40-man roster yet.

Detmers, ranked as their No. 2 prospect, is at Double-A Rocket City and has a 4.05 ERA with 30 strikeouts, nine walks and four homers allowed in 20 innings. He still needs to work on his command to cut down on the walks and homers. There’s a chance he could come up by the end of the season, but he’ll need to make improvements, or else his arrival might not come until 2022.

What's wrong with Dylan Bundy? Is there any reason why his pitching performance has struggled recently?
-- Jason, @Bearangels27

Angels manager Joe Maddon called Bundy an ace before the season started and Bundy pitched like one in his first year with the club in 2020. But this year, Bundy hasn’t been able to command his fastball and slider like he did in '20 and he’s getting hit hard as a result.

Bundy is 0-6 with a 6.49 ERA and 53 strikeouts, 15 walks and 12 homers allowed in 51 1/3 innings. Giving up homers was an issue for him with the Orioles -- he served up a league-leading 41 in 2018 and 29 in '19 -- but he seemed to correct that issue last year. He's also been dealing with a foot injury that could be hampering his ability to locate the ball. His strikeout rate and walk rate are similar to last year, but his home run rate has tripled. So it'll be about keeping the ball in the park going forward for him to turn it around.

Andrew Heaney, Alex Cobb, Bundy and José Quintana: Out of them, who should the Angels consider re-signing and who should they consider trading?
-- D.O., @Dochoa831

The next two months will determine a lot of that, as all four players mentioned are impending free agents and the Angels will have to decide who to retain after the season. If the Angels fall out of contention, they also could be sellers at the Trade Deadline and could look to move any one of those four pitchers.

At this point, it would be a surprise to see the Angels reach an extension with any of their pitchers during the season, but they do get exclusive negotiating rights with their free agents after the end of the season. And there remains a chance that none of those four pitchers will command a multi-year deal this offseason.

It’s hard to predict what they will do, as it’s a bit too early at this point. But they’ve been high on Heaney and Bundy, while Cobb has started to turn it around with a few strong outings. Quintana has been too wild and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares once he returns from his left shoulder injury.