Adell homers in 4th straight, receives call from Nevin

April 8th, 2023

never fulfilled his commitment to play baseball at the University of Louisville after the Angels selected him 10th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft, but one message from the recruiting process still sticks out.

“Be where your feet are,” longtime Cardinals head coach Dan McDonnell told a young Adell. In the ensuing years, that’s been easier said than done.

Adell’s feet have been in constant motion since making his Major League debut with Los Angeles in 2020. After entering that season as the No. 6 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, he has been sent down or called up seven different times.

While his Minor League numbers in that time have been strong (.929 OPS with 36 homers in 113 Triple-A games between 2021 and '22), his big league performance has been inconsistent. For a former top prospect, albeit one who’s still only 24 years old, that also means it has been underwhelming.

It’s still early in 2023, but after hitting four home runs in Spring Training and going deep in each of his last four games for Salt Lake, Adell credited improved swing decisions with putting him in a place -- both mentally and physically -- to be able to do damage with more consistency

“I’ve done a really good job of controlling what I’m looking for,” Adell said. “That’s been a theme for a while: continuing to hone in on that zone, being okay with taking some strikes and if it’s not where I want it, just give it a pass.”

Adell wasted no time extending his streak in Friday's 15-2 win, leaving the yard as the second batter of the top of the first inning in Albuquerque. This homer went 439 feet and left his bat at 109.2 mph, according to Statcast -- not as massive as his 460-foot, 113.4-mph blast the night before, but an impressive one nonetheless.

“That approach has really helped me,” Adell said. “I’ve been able to drive the ball, especially to center and the right side of the field; that’s been a strength of mine. Occasionally I’ll pull the ball, but it’s just trying to stay toward the middle of the field.”

The results? Not a single one of his four home runs this week have been hit to straightaway left field.

Adell isn’t the only one noticing the improvements. He received an unexpected phone call from Angels manager Phil Nevin and hitting coach Marcus Thames on Thursday where similar sentiments were shared.

“I'm really proud of the way he's going about it,” Nevin told reporters before the Angels’ home opener on Friday. “His swing decisions, if you look at all the data on that, are outstanding. And it's something that he's really needed to improve on. And so far in the first six, seven games there, he's been really really good with it. If he keeps going and keeps working, I think that's going to translate into the Major Leagues as well.”

The gesture wasn’t a small one, given the frequency of phone calls from a Major League manager to a player in the Minor Leagues in-season.

“From what I hear it’s pretty rare,” Adell said. “Phil’s been great. He’s an unbelievable player’s coach. He’s been someone I feel really comfortable around and built a good bond with.”

If -- and almost certainly when -- Adell returns to the Majors, he will have benefited from his previous opportunities and the lessons they provided.

“One thing I’ve learned is that the game isn’t emotional,” Adell said. “I try to play it one way, which is how I’ve known my whole life, high-energy and giving it everything I know. At the end of the day, it’s going to go one way or another … just like making decisions at the plate or doing anything else.

“I am who I am. It’s [about] being okay with that.”