It was two-for-one day for the Angels, which is not necessarily a bargain for a franchise with such a star-crossed history.
A team known for enduring its fair share of fluke injuries and mishaps — remember Mo Vaughn falling into the dugout and spraining his ankle in his Angels debut after signing a six-year, $80-million deal before the 1999 season? — lost its best prospect in somewhat strange fashion on Saturday.
Jo Adell suffered a left-hamstring strain and a right-ankle sprain on the same play when he slipped on the bag and fell as he rounded second base in an 11-4 split-squad exhibition loss to the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz.
The 19-year-old outfielder, ranked the sixth-best prospect in the game by Baseball America, was on crutches when he returned to Tempe Diablo Stadium. He was evaluated by the team’s medical staff and told reporters he would address his dual injuries on Sunday.
General manager Billy Eppler said Adell will undergo an MRI test on Sunday and that the team would have an update on the severity of the injuries either Sunday night or Monday.
The Angels did not issue a prognosis Saturday. Even if he escapes a serious injury, Adell, who was expected to open the season at double-A Mobile, probably will be sidelined for several weeks.
“I’m guessing there was some correlation between the two [injuries], but I don’t know exactly how it happened,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said after the team’s 5-1 split-squad loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in Tempe. “Until I have more information, I really can’t tell you anything.”
Adell, who is hitting .391 (nine for 23) this spring, led off the second inning against the Cubs with a single and was rounding second on Wilfredo Tovar’s single to right field when he slipped on the bag and fell.
Adell appeared to be in considerable pain as he walked off the field under his own power, and he left the stadium on a cart.
When the Angels used the 10th overall pick of the 2017 draft to select Adell out of Ballard High School in Louisville, scouting director Matt Swanson called Adell “a potential franchise player.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Adell signed for $4.38 million and hit .325 with a .908 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 24 extra-base hits and 30 RBIs in 49 rookie-league games at Arizona and Orem, Utah, in 2017.
Adell jumped three levels in 2018, when he hit .290 with an .897 OPS, 20 homers and 77 RBIs in 99 games at Class-A Burlington, Iowa, Class-A Inland Empire and Mobile, a performance that earned him an invitation to his first big-league camp this spring.
Adell was thought to be on a trajectory to replace Mike Trout as the team’s center fielder if the two-time American League most valuable player leaves as a free agent after 2020.
But Adell is rising through the system so rapidly that he seems poised to play alongside Trout by the end of this season or in 2020. He made a good impression on the Angels this spring.
“Guys like him who you bring into camp, it’s more of a learning experience, a comfort factor,” Ausmus said. “Down the road, they know the faces, they know the names, the big-league guys know who they are, and there’s some type of connection.”
Chip off the old block
Torii Hunter Jr., the son of nine-time Gold Glove Award-winner and former Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, made a nice diving catch of Tyler Saladino’s flare into shallow right-center field after a long run in the eighth inning of the Brewers game.
“It was a good catch,” said Ausmus, who was the Detroit manager when the elder Hunter played his second of two seasons for the Tigers in 2014. “He can cover some ground. He’s got closing speed.”
Where did Hunter Jr. get that speed and athleticism?