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Maddon: Adell 'not far off' from The Show

@RhettBollinger
February 23, 2020

TEMPE, Ariz. -- New Angels manager Joe Maddon has made it a point to see as many of the organization’s young players as he can this spring and recently watched a live batting practice session featuring top prospect Jo Adell. Maddon couldn’t help but get excited by what he saw

TEMPE, Ariz. -- New Angels manager Joe Maddon has made it a point to see as many of the organization’s young players as he can this spring and recently watched a live batting practice session featuring top prospect Jo Adell.

Maddon couldn’t help but get excited by what he saw at the plate from Adell, who is ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline. Adell, 20, is in Major League camp for a second straight season, but this time he’s competing for the starting job in right field with Brian Goodwin, who is considered the favorite.

"I saw what everybody was talking about. He got loud,” Maddon said. “He's going to get loud for many years. The big thing with him is just whatever holes there may be -- however big or small they are -- and how you close them up. But he's not far off."

Adell, who is regarded as the club’s best prospect since Mike Trout, saw his spring last year marred by a freak injury while running the bases in a game against the Cubs, suffering both a strained left hamstring and sprained right ankle on the same play. He made an impact in his first game of the spring, going 2-for-3 with an RBI single and a stolen base in a 7-5 win over the Rockies in the Cactus League opener on Sunday.

Adell's debut was delayed until late May with Class A Advanced Inland Empire, 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 there, 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 Premier 12 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.

It also exposed Adell to a big league atmosphere, as he was awed by the passionate crowds at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.

“It was awesome,” Adell said. “It was pretty surreal. It was a competitive atmosphere. You’re talking about finding any way to put up the ‘W.’ It’s not about any individuals.”

So it was a busy offseason for Adell, who is nearing his Major League debut. The Angels haven’t ruled out him making the Opening Day roster, but he’d have to earn it with an incredible spring. Goodwin is coming off a strong year with the Angels, while Adell didn’t have much success at Triple-A and there are service time implications as well. If Adell doesn't debut until roughly mid-April, the Angels will gain an extra year of control.

“With Jo touching down in Triple-A last year, it was pretty similar to his first touchdown in Double-A in 2018,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. “So there’s still some things that young players continue to need to get better at, and it’s more than just the batter’s box. It’s running the bases, it’s throwing to the right base, it’s defense. … I don’t want to define it. I want to let it be organic and see how he is when he comes in the door.”

Adell is also adapting to a new position, as he was moved to right field from center after Trout signed his 12-year, $426.5 million extension last year. Adell has more than enough athleticism to become an elite defensive right fielder, but spent time this offseason working on his lateral movement and getting better reads from right field.

“I think with my running, I worked more with first step for outfield purposes,” Adell said. “I really just want to lock down on defense. If I can do that, everything will take care of itself.”

Adell takes that same mentality in regard to his callup, as he knows the decision is out of his hands and the only thing he can control is how hard he works to get better.

“I can’t control what the lineup is gonna be or who is gonna be on the team,” Adell said. “I’m getting as ready as I can. I want to be ready no matter when the team calls and when they need me. I want to be there. That’s why I’m here working every day and trying to get after it.”

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.