Adell debuts, flashes elite speed on 1st hit

August 5th, 2020

The Angels are off to a slow start this season, but they received a boost with the addition of top prospect Jo Adell, who was called up to make his Major League debut on Tuesday.

The Angels also optioned outfielder Michael Hermosillo and infielder Jared Walsh to their alternate site in Long Beach, Calif., as Mike Trout was reinstated from the restricted list for Tuesday's game in Seattle. Reliever Cam Bedrosian also landed on the 10-day disabled list with an adductor strain and Kyle Keller was recalled to take his place.

Adell singled in his first career at-bat while facing right-hander Justin Dunn in the first inning of a 5-3 Angels win, beating out an infield single on a slow roller to third. Adell showed off his impressive wheels, as he had a sprint speed of 30.4 feet per second, per Statcast. Anything faster than 30 feet per second is considered elite.

Adell, ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline, is the club’s highest-rated prospect since Trout. The 21-year-old has incredible raw power and can play all three outfield positions, but he has mostly been seeing time in right field with Trout entrenched in center. He started in right field and hit seventh on Tuesday.

"More than likely he was nervous, but he handled it well, I thought," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "You can see his speed. Getting that first hit out of the way is always good to have. That was a nice debut for him."

“So much excitement,” Adell said before the game. “You work so hard, and you always have that as the goal out in front of you, and then one day you get the call like this and it finally validates the work you’ve done. It’s definitely humbling and very exciting.”

The club has a crowded outfield with Justin Upton, Brian Goodwin and Trout, but Maddon said that Upton and Goodwin will form a platoon in left field. Upton has been struggling his year and now will be limited to only starting against lefties, unless he begins to improve.

“I talked to Justin the other night,” Maddon said. “I wanted to give him the appropriate heads up. I have too much respect for him otherwise. It could change. Don't get me wrong, things change. But for right now this is what we're doing. When you bring up an Adell, a player like that, first of all you have to make sure he's ready to do this. And second of all, you don't want him sitting around and trying to be a bench player. It's not going to help us or him.”

Adell, the 10th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, was impressive in Summer Camp offensively, but he also made a few gaffes in right defensively. The Angels have been working with him on his defense, as he’s adjusting to play the corners after mostly serving as a center fielder early in his career.

“Defensively, I had some miscues, some things I needed to work on that were evident,” Adell said. “I’ve just been really pounding early work defense, working on getting into the rhythm of what I’m trying to do, how to attack certain balls in the outfield, some of my routes. Over in Long Beach, that was the main focus of mine.”

Last year, Adell suffered a freak injury while running the bases in a Spring Training game against the Cubs in Mesa, Ariz., suffering both a strained left hamstring and a sprained right ankle on the same play. Adell's debut was delayed until late May with Class A Advanced Inland Empire as a result, but he only played six games there before being moved up to Double-A Mobile. Adell excelled there, hitting .308/.390/.553 with eight homers, 23 RBIs and six stolen bases in 43 games before getting his first taste of Triple-A Salt Lake. Adell had a tougher time at that level, batting .264/.321/.355 with no homers and eight RBIs in 27 games, although he did have a two-homer game washed away by rain.

Adell, though, stayed active after the season, playing in 24 games in the Arizona Fall League and hitting a respectable .273/.351/.444 with three homers and nine RBIs. And then he played for Team USA in the Premier12 Tournament in November, batting .394 with three homers and five RBIs in 33 at-bats. He tied for the lead for the most homers in the tourney while recording the second-most total bases.