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Angels’ plans for Jo Adell still up in the air

Angels' Jo Adell leads off from second base during the first inning of a spring training game against the Colorado Rockies.
Angels’ Jo Adell leads off from second base during the first inning of a spring training game against the Colorado Rockies on Feb. 23 in Tempe, Ariz.
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

You see his size, speed and athleticism, the eye-popping power he’s shown by scalding balls all over Angel Stadium against front-line pitchers for the past two weeks, and you think Jo Adell is clearly ready for the big leagues.

Then you see the highly touted outfield prospect lose a routine fly ball in the sun, play a single into a triple by attempting a sliding catch of a sinking liner that bounces past him and to the wall and you think, not so fast.

The Angels will set their 30-man roster for the start of a pandemic-shortened 60-game season in a week, and though a decision about Adell hasn’t been made, it appears they will take a cautious approach with the 21-year-old who was their first-round pick out of Ballard High in Louisville in 2017.

“It’s overall readiness,” manager Joe Maddon said of the factors going into the Adell decision. “Listen, this guy is absolutely a huge part of our future, no question. But there’s really no rush. Just make sure all the boxes are checked, that he’s able to work in all the different areas that make a complete major league baseball player.”

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The Angels starting outfield is set with Mike Trout in center, Justin Upton in left and Brian Goodwin probably splitting time with David Fletcher in right. Michael Hermosillo, who is on the 40-man roster, can play all three outfield spots and is a little more polished defender than Adell, who is not on the 40-man.

Angels pitching coach Mickey Callaway is impressed by how Shohei Ohtani approaches his pitching and hitting duties through “impeccable routines.”

If this were a normal season, the Angels would start the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Adell at triple-A Salt Lake, where he could play every day.

But even with minor league seasons canceled, Adell, who struck out 13 times in 25 exhibition at-bats before spring training was canceled in March, might be better off for now playing intrasquad games with the reserve squad instead of sitting on the Angels bench.

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“I’ve been around situations where guys have been rushed, and when you do that, you could lose a really good player,” Maddon said. “A lot of it has to do with your mind and how people are able to adjust. I think he’s very strong mentally. I think he’s got tremendous makeup. The guy’s high-ceiling all the way around. But he has things to work on, quite frankly.

“Don’t be deceived by a couple of well-struck balls in a spring training game. He’s making progress. He’s a major league player in the making. But don’t try to rush a young man like this. You want to make sure that when you do pull the switch and put him out there, he’s absolutely ready for it.”

Angels' Jo Adell hits against the Kansas City Royals during the second inning of a spring training game in Surprise, Ariz.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

Simulated gaming

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It’s beginning to feel a lot like baseball in Angel Stadium, where Wednesday night’s intrasquad game featured an operational scoreboard, a public-address announcer introducing players for at-bats, walk-up music and piped-in crowd noise synched up to the action.

Adding more authenticity to the sound track, closer Hansel Robles sat on the end of the bench with a trumpet and a shofar—a rams-horn trumpet used by ancient Jews in religious ceremonies and Vikings as a battle signal—blowing the horns intermittently throughout the game.

Top pitching prospect Chris Rodriguez allowed one hit in three innings of the 6 ½-inning game, fifth-starter candidate Jaime Barria allowed one run and four hits in four innings, and infield prospect Jahmai Jones doubled twice.

But the most impressive performance was delivered by reliever Jacob Barnes, a hard-throwing right-hander Maddon often raves about. Barnes faced four batters, striking out Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols and getting Anthony Rendon to fly out.

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Spin move

Jacob Rhame, claimed off waivers from the New York Mets on July 8, probably won’t get enough scrimmage and exhibition-game reps to be ready to open the season in the bullpen, but pitching coach Mickey Callaway thinks the hard-throwing right-hander could eventually be an impact reliever for the Angels.

“This kid has a big arm, and he can really spin the ball,” said Callaway, who managed the Mets the last two years. “When we heard he was available, we really wanted to jump at the opportunity to get this kid.”

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Rhame, 27, has a 6.23 ERA in 47 2/3 innings over three big league seasons, but his fastball averaged 95.7 mph, according to Fangraphs, and the spin-rate on his four-seam fastball and slider is considered elite.

“I really feel like Jacob Rhame is going to have a very productive career, and right now, I feel like he just needs reps at the major league level to go out prove himself,” Callaway said. “He hasn’t had a ton of opportunity at the major league level, so hopefully this is the organization that’s going to allow him to have that.”

Short hops

Infielder Luis Rengifo joined the team Wednesday after missing the first 12 days of workouts for undisclosed reasons. … Pitcher Parker Markel was put on the 10-day injured list, but not because of a “physical injury,” according to Maddon. “He had been here,” Maddon said, “and now he’s not here.”... A reminder: Teams cannot release COVID-19-related IL stints without a player’s permission. … Right-hander Denny Brady, a 2017 seventh-round pick who had a 3.64 ERA in 76 2/3 innings for Class-A Inland Empire in 2019, was added to the 60-man player pool and joined the Angels for workouts Wednesday.


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