Jo Adell Continues Onslaught Through The Cal League
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.— It’s been years since the Angels had an impact position player make his way up their system. Seven years, to be exact.
The 2011 season is when Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron and a young outfielder named Mike Trout all rose concurrently through the Angels system, putting together the resumes that would make them everyday major leaguers. Since then, it’s been a long, arid drought.
But by all appearances, that drought is about to end. Jo Adell is seeing to that personally.
Adell continued his torrid onslaught through the minor leagues on Wednesday night, going 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored in high Class A Inland Empire’s 4-3 loss to Lancaster (Rockies).
The 19-year-old outfielder dispatched the competition at low Class A Burlington with shocking ease to earn a quick promotion to Inland Empire in May. After a brief adjustment period, Adell is starting to lay waste to the California League, too.
In his last nine games, Adell, the No. 23 prospect in the BA Top 100, is batting .425 with four doubles, three home runs, 11 runs scored and a 1.189 OPS. He has multiple hits in four of his last six games, has struck out just once in his last 15 at-bats and is already being labeled as the best position player to grace the Cal League this season by opposing evaluators.
“He’s slowing the game down, especially at the plate obviously,” Inland Empire manager Ryan Barba said. “He’s in good rhythm right now. He’s making good decisions, staying in his zone, and when he gets it in his zone he’s hitting it pretty good. It’s fun to watch.”
The Angels selected Adell with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft after he batted .562 and led the nation with 25 home runs his senior year of high school. An elite athlete built like a football player at 6-foot-3, 208 pounds, Adell had all the alluring tools and physicality clubs desire, but questions about his hitting ability remained despite his prodigious performance.
In one calendar year as a professional, Adell has all but shut those questions down. He hit .325 with a .908 OPS at the Rookie levels last year after signing. He hit .326/.398/.611 in the Midwest League to start this season and was promoted after 25 games. Now he’s in the California League, three years younger than league average, and mashing like a man among boys.
“For me, it’s more of a situation to where I’m kind of looking for a pitch in my zone early,” Adell said. “These guys are a lot older, a lot of really successful college pitchers. For me, it’s just been about knowing what they’re trying to do to me and knowing if I get it in my zone early to be ready to attack. That’s kind of been the plan since I got here.”
Adell is getting by not just with his raw talent, but also by having mature at-bats rare for someone his age.
In his latest home run on Wednesday—his 12th homer in 47 games this year—Adell fell behind into a two-strike count, spoiled a pitch like a seasoned professional and pounced on the mistake when it came, blasting a hanging 81 mph breaking ball from lefthander Ty Culbreth deep into the Southern California twilight.
“As we’re going along here he’s maturing,” Barba said. “Whether it’s the stuff in the cage or even during batting practice, he’s understanding his approach. With that, he’s taking advantage of some pitches that he should crush.”
Adell’s homer was just the first tantalizing glimpse of the future for the Angels on the night.
In the third inning, Angels No. 2 prospect Brandon Marsh—another physical, athletically-gifted outfielder who was promoted from Burlington just before Adell in May—ripped a long drive into the right-center gap and raced around the bases for a standup triple. Adell followed by lining a sharp single into left, scoring Marsh and giving Inland Empire a 2-0 lead.
In all, Adell and Marsh scored all three of Inland Empire’s runs in the game.
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Jo Adell and Victor Robles are two premium prospects at the top of the crop. After that, the talent level drops off considerably.
“I’d say me and him … we just kind of come together as one and know what each other is trying to do,” Adell said. “It feels like if Brandon gets up and gets a knock then I’m right there behind him. Or vice versa. It’s been a tag team-type thing where it’s been special ever since last year.”
With the performance he’s putting together and how rapidly he is progressing, the question of Adell making an impact in Anaheim has become a question not of “if”, but “when.”
Whenever that day comes, there is a growing sense of confidence he will, in fact, be the one to end the Angels’ long homegrown prospect drought.
“I’ll tell you this: he’s pretty special,” Barba said “He’s special to watch. He’s a special talent. That’s the only way I can really say it. He’s special.”
NEWS AND NOTES
—Rockies' No. 4 prospect Colton Welker went 1-for-5 with an RBI single and made a sensational diving stop to his backhand at third base for Lancaster. Welker, 20, got off to a red-hot start at the plate but has slumped recently as teams began pitching him backwards and throwing breaking balls early in counts. Welker is batting just .263/.298/.377 since May 10. On the positive side, Welker is drawing rave reviews for his defense at third base, with some evaluators and opposing managers calling it the best in the league.
—Angels' No. 4 prospect Jahmai Jones went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, two groundouts and a flyout. He showed above-average run times on his groundouts and made every defensive play at second base with ease, a notable development because it’s his first season at the position after converting from center field.
—Rockies' No. 27 prospect Reid Humphreys pitched a perfect ninth inning to move into a tie for first place in the Cal League with 13 saves. Using a 93-95 mph cutter and 82-83 mph slider, Humphreys has made 16 consecutive scoreless appearances and has 33 strikeouts against just seven walks on the year. Humphreys’ setup man, sidearmer Justin Lawrence, pitched a 1-2-3 eighth with a devastating 94-97 mph sinker that has made him a sought-after trade target for evaluators in the league.