New Angels outfielder Dexter Fowler expected to mentor top prospect Jo Adell
“You go, we go.”
It was a nightly reminder of Fowler’s outsized importance on that World Series-winning team. When Fowler was hot, Maddon said, the team usually followed suit. When he wasn’t, he still controlled the strike zone and managed to reach base often. Around the clubhouse, his infectious smile was a constant source of positive energy.
Now reunited with the Angels, who acquired Fowler in an offseason trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, Maddon said it feels “like no time has passed. He’s the same guy. And I’m really looking forward to seeing the impact he has on us.”
And over the next month, there’s one particular player Maddon is interested to see Fowler work with. He hopes that as Fowler goes this spring, so too does Jo Adell.
“I think it’s just going to be an organic situation,” Maddon said of the two right fielders, “where they’re just going to hit it off.”
New Angels general manager Perry Minasian bolstered the roster during the offseason, but did not add a high-priced free agent or make a blockbuster trade.
This season could be key to Adell’s development. While the Angels remain high on the former first-round draft pick’s potential — Maddon described him as “high end” last week — Adell, 21, has much to improve after hitting .161 and struggling defensively in his 38-game debut in 2020.
Fowler’s presence should help, especially if the 34-year-old can reverse his own declining production from his final three seasons in St. Louis, when he hit a combined .218 with a .690 on-base-plus-slugging.
Not only does the former All-Star provide a veteran option in right field — giving the Angels more flexibility with Adell, who Maddon has said could benefit from regular playing time in Triple-A — but he also could be a role model.
“They’re both high-energy, fun kind of guys,” Maddon said. “Dex has had the experience of playing with a couple different organizations, a World Series hero. I see it as being a good union. I really do. I mean, Dex is good for anybody. But [he and Adell have] similar kinds of personalities.”
Fowler believes that type of mentorship will come naturally the more he’s around the team. Adell isn’t the only young player who could benefit. Highly touted prospects Brandon Marsh, 23, and Jordyn Adams, 21, are also in the Angels’ big league camp.
“I’m a people person,” Fowler said, adding, “I’m just trying to leave a legacy and have people be able to be open-minded and come talk to me.”
When Maddon was asked last week about how Fowler could help Adell specifically, the manager was already envisioning the knowledge he could share around the batting cage or on-deck circle.
“I’m certain that conversation and nuggets will be dropped,” Maddon said. “And I’m certain . . . that Jo’s gonna pick these nuggets up. I’m really eager to watch that.”
Fowler, who will be a free agent next offseason, believes joining the Angels will be good for his own game, too.
He’s hoping to recapture his form from the start of last season, when he was batting .279 with an .832 OPS before going on the injured list in early September with a stomach issue and finishing the year on a two-for-17 skid. A switch-hitter, he’s also eager to get more opportunities from the right side of the plate after going just two for 17 against left-handed pitchers last year.
Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani never recovered from slow starts in the shortened 2020 season. Their track records give the Angels hope for a rebound.
Most of all, he’s excited to play for Maddon again, which he said was a consideration in his decision to waive the no-trade clause in his contract with the Cardinals this offseason.
“He tells me all the time, ‘Just go be Dex,’ and I love that,” Fowler said. “I love that you can just go out and he accepts you in your own skin.”
For the Angels, it could be the makings of a mutually beneficial situation — giving the team someone who can aid their playoff push this season, and help foster the development of a key piece to their future.
“Younger guys need to be around people like this,” Maddon said, “to truly understand what it takes to eventually become an accomplished major league player.”
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