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Highly touted prospect Jo Adell expected to join Angels on road trip

Angels prospect Jo Adell takes an at-bat.
The Angels are set to call up outfield prospect Jo Adell as they embark on a six-game road trip that begins Tuesday in Seattle.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

After a miserable start to their 2020 season, the Angels will promote top prospect Jo Adell, said a person familiar with the situation who was unable to make a public comment. Adell, 21, is expected to join the team this week. The Angels begin a six-game trip Tuesday in Seattle.

Just a few weeks ago, manager Joe Maddon told reporters he didn’t want to rush Adell’s MLB debut. He believed Adell, the Angels’ first-round pick in the 2017 draft, could use more seasoning defensively. He made multiple mistakes playing right field during training camp, prompting outfielders coach Jesús Feliciano to develop an action plan to address the problem. Adell was assigned to the Angels’ secondary site at the end of camp.

Now Adell, the Angels’ most anticipated prospect since Mike Trout sailed through the farm system, will get the chance to display his improvements at the major league level.

It’s clear from Shohei Ohtani’s velocity alone that the Angels’ Japanese phenom is nowhere close to the same pitcher he was before his 2018 Tommy John surgery.

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How Adell is utilized in the Angels’ outfield remains to be seen. Trout is expected to rejoin the team Tuesday after spending the end of last week tending to the birth of his first child. Adell could serve as a backup, but the Angels have said all along that they didn’t want to call up Adell to ride the bench.

In moves corresponding to Adell’s promotion and Trout’s return, the Angels demoted outfielder Michael Hermosillo and first baseman Jared Walsh to the team’s alternate site.

Adell hit .289 with 27 doubles and 10 home runs in 76 games last season and was one of the Angels’ most productive minor leaguers despite starting his season six weeks late because of ankle and hamstring injuries. He was promoted to triple-A on Aug. 1, 2019. He struggled to adjust and compiled a .676 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 27 games in the Pacific Coast League.

Upon joining the Angels in spring training this year, he went seven for 25 and struck out 13 times in nine exhibition games before spring training was canceled. Still, he showed enough for Maddon to recognize his potential.

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“He’s gonna get loud [with the bat] for many years,” Maddon said after watching a particularly powerful batting practice display by Adell in March.

Adell also displayed improved footwork in the corner outfield positions during spring training. Adell, who is 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, originally was a center fielder. He was moved to the corners after Trout signed a 12-year, $426-million contract extension with the Angels last spring. He spent his offseason improving his lateral movements in anticipation of his MLB debut.

Adell’s arrival coincides with the Angels’ dreadful start to the 2020 season. They are 3-7 and at the bottom of the American League West division. They have been outscored 56-49. Their .223 batting average is the 10th-worst in the major leagues. They’ve fared worse with runners in scoring position, batting .215.

Maddon hasn’t seemed perturbed by the Angels’ meager offensive production. Trout and Anthony Rendon, who missed the season-opening series because of an oblique injury, were in the lineup for only two games last week before Trout missed the finale against the Seattle Mariners and three games against the Houston Astros. He believes Trout will provide a boost.

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Perhaps Adell can, too.


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