Adell torches the Rangers in 2021 debut

Right fielder goes 3-for-4 with 2 doubles, 3 RBIs and a stolen base

August 4th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- A year ago this week, playing in just his fourth Major League game, former Angels top prospect made headlines for a rare four-base error when a Nick Solak fly ball popped out of his glove and over the fence at Globe Life Field. That set the tone for a disappointing rookie season, and subsequent trips to Arlington didn’t get any better as he went 0-for-18 with 10 strikeouts.

Adell’s performance in Tuesday night’s 11-3 win over the Rangers signaled the progress he has made since hitting just .161 last season. Playing right field, Adell went 3-for-4 with a walk, two doubles and three RBIs, including a crucial two-run double that gave the Halos the lead for good.

“It felt good. I went in and tried to game-plan every pitcher that we faced and tried to get pitches that I could handle, and good things happened. … I’m really happy that I could produce,” Adell said.

Adell, the Angels’ first-round pick (No. 10 overall) in the 2017 MLB Draft, was called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday, but he was scratched from the starting lineup as his 6 a.m. flight from Albuquerque to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was canceled. He got a later flight, though he had to wait until Tuesday to see action.

He promptly worked a full count and walked in the second inning, notable given the fact that he walked only seven times in 132 plate appearances last season. He fell behind in the count 1-2, but fouled off a pitch and took three more.

“That was my best at-bat of the day, for sure,” Adell said. “Some of these pitches, I didn’t see very often throughout the Minor Leagues until I got into Triple-A baseball. There were some sinkers, some different pitches that I hadn’t seen quite yet. I think I probably would’ve swung at a couple of sliders or cutters early in the count.”

After the walk, Adell then stole second -- his first Major League stolen base -- before being stranded.

“I really liked the baserunning and the command of the strike zone,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Those are the two things that are going to make him a really good Major League player, understanding the nuances of the game.”

In the third inning, Adell, who only had seven RBIs in 38 games last season, smacked a two-run double to left and drove in a third run with a seventh-inning single.

As he labored to get back to the Majors, Adell put together a dazzling half-season at Salt Lake, batting .289 with 23 homers and a .934 OPS in 73 games. He had hits in 22 of his last 25 games and he batted .363 with seven doubles, seven homers and an eye-popping 1.066 OPS during that stretch.

“The more you play, the more you start to figure out where your success lies within the game,” Adell said. “For me, over these 70 or so games in Salt Lake, along with some Spring games, I started to figure out how I’m going to be successful in certain situations, and what pitches I actually can handle very well versus the ones that I think I can hit very well.”

Back to that “weird” 2020 -- the abbreviated 60-game season with no fans, no Minor League games and strict COVID-19 protocols at every turn. It was a challenge for every ballplayer, but doubly so for Adell, who wasn’t afforded the rhythm and workflow of a normal Spring Training, something a rookie typically needs more than a veteran.

When he was called up in 2020, Adell never got comfortable, as he slashed .161/.212/.266 with three homers. The touted outfielder struck out 55 times in 132 plate appearances -- a 41.7% strikeout rate -- and he was also a below-average fielder, never more infamously than his Canseco-esque homer helper.

“In a season as short as last year, the toughest part is jumping into that groove,” Adell said. “There’s really no time to struggle when you’re trying to put up the season that you want. With Spring Training and the way it was set up, not having fans, everything that came into play was kind of awkward, kind of weird. But I wouldn’t take that back. A couple of times, people have asked, 'If you could, [would you] do the year over again?' No. Adversity made me who I am.”