ANAHEIM -- It’s evident that Jo Adell is getting more comfortable in the Major Leagues.
The former top Angels prospect looks like a totally different player than he did during his rookie season in 2020, and he had a big day at the plate against the Rangers on Sunday afternoon, going 3-for-3 with two homers and one walk in the Halos' 7-3 loss at Angel Stadium. It was Adell’s second career multihomer game, with his first coming against the Mariners on Aug. 29, 2020.
Adell credited hitting coach Jeremy Reed for helping him generate a plan against the Rangers and lefty starter Taylor Hearn.
"We talked before the game about the approach and trying to find something out over the plate, something middle-away I could get extended on," Adell said. "And I was able to get those pitches. I’m glad I was able to capitalize and do some damage."
Adell had a rough debut campaign -- hitting .161 in 38 games and struggling defensively in the outfield -- but he's fared better at the plate and in the field this season. Over his last 12 games, he's hitting .326 (14-for-43) with two homers, one double, one triple and nine RBIs.
"Honestly, in my own head, dumber is better, because these guys are so good and the ball gets on you so quickly, you don't really have time to come up with an advanced plan mid-pitch," Adell said. "So for me, I go up and see what a guy's got and look for pitches I know I can hit well. I just try to stick [to] that approach and try to be an athlete, make contact, and hit it hard and see what happens."
Adell's first homer came in the fourth inning on a first-pitch sinker from Hearn. It was his second blast of the season and his first since hitting a grand slam against the Tigers on Aug. 17. His second shot came in the sixth, when he connected on a 2-0 sinker from Hearn and drove it to the opposite field for a two-run dinger that just cleared the fence. As Adell alluded to, he’s been working on not fouling off hittable pitches, and he made progress in that regard on Sunday.
"Today, especially, he didn't foul his pitch off,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said.
“Recently, he was getting some good swings off, but hitting them straight back. He does a pretty good job of not chasing, that's part of his DNA, which is good. But today, and moving forward, he doesn't always need them to be hits, but he needs to hit the ball forward with more regularity. I thought that's what he did today."
The two homers weren’t enough for the Angels, who were otherwise held in check by Hearn over seven innings. Right-hander Janson Junk also wasn’t helped by his defense in his Major League debut.
Junk, acquired in the trade that sent Andrew Heaney to the Yankees, went 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs (one earned) on six hits and one walk. He gave up a solo shot to DJ Peters in the second and then nearly escaped a jam in the third, only to see shortstop Luis Rengifo make a throwing error with two outs that allowed a run to score. Peters followed with a three-run blast for his second homer of the game.
"I felt good about it, other than the three-run home run," said Junk, who had several family members and friends in attendance. "The curveball popped out of my hand a little bit. It was my first time throwing with the big league balls. Other than that, I was happy about it. I was commanding the zone. Throwing strikes. Not walking people. That's all you can ask for."
Right-handed reliever Kyle Tyler also made his MLB debut and threw three scoreless innings. A 20th-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out of the University of Oklahoma, Tyler struck out two and allowed only one hit. He also made history for the Angels by becoming the 61st player used this season, which set a new franchise record, surpassing the 60 players used in 2018.
"He attacked," Maddon said. "It was another great performance, regarding makeup. His fastball cuts naturally and it was really effective for him today. A couple changeups. He definitely knows what he's doing out there. I love the makeup and his ability to slow things down."