Halo Hangout recently stopped by the home of LA Angels Class A Advanced Minor League organization, the Inland Empire 66ers, to speak with the Angels 2017 1st round draft pick and young star Jo Adell. His accolades are many already and his talents fierce; speaking with the young athlete opened up valuable insight into what makes him the above-and-beyond player he is.
The LA Angels have been an organization that is seemingly in a constant hard-up for super-star prospects. That’s not to say there hasn’t been talent coming up to the big league; in fact there’s been serious talent showing their faces as of late. We’ve seen Jaime Barria make his season debut and pull out a win against Angels long-time rivals, the Texas Rangers, in their own ballpark no less. Keynan Middleton, before going down with a season ending injury, was flashing star talent before the premature end to his season.
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Of course there was Mike Trout, but that was practically a gift from the heavens above. The Angels didn’t necessarily “luck” into that 25th pick in the 2009 draft, yet it’s glaringly obvious how so many things came together too perfectly for the Angels in that moment. That was the season Angels temporarily first base slugger Mark Teixeira walked away from the Angels in what was perceived as a backhanded move by sports agent Scott Boras, notorious for his intensive form of negotiating, which struck a nerve with franchise owner Arte Moreno. There was a bad taste in everyone’s mouth; fans, players and front office alike.
But then the compensation picks came; with the Yankees signing Teixeira as a free agent this meant the Angels would receive the Yankees 25th pick in the 2009 draft as compensation for losing the highly ranked free agent. That pick was used to bring aboard one of the greatest players in modern-day baseball history, Mike Trout.
In 2017 the Angels held the 10th pick of the draft, not of luck this time, and aced the biggest high school baseball star in Kentucky state, the now 19-year-old Jo Adell. The last time a high-schooler was drafted straight out of high school from Louisville was 2001’s Jeremy Sowers as a pick by the Cincinnati Reds, and Sowers opted for college instead.
What the Angels are getting is one of the safest low-risk, high reward players they’ve picked up in recent memory. As a winner of the ‘Gatorade Kentucky Baseball Player of the Year’ award due to his phenomenal senior season of .562 with 25 HR’s and 69 RBI’s which came in tow with 22 stolen bases on way to 53 runs scored in 35 games.
Look at that one more time, 25 HR’s and 69 RBI’s in 35 games.
Some people want to think Jo Adell as a “high-risk/high-reward” prospect, but with his almost supernatural ability to thrive on a level far beyond that of his peers already being recorded with his ‘Gatorade Kentucky P.O.T.Y’ award. There are prospects who come in the system knowing how to play the game, even how to excel at it.
Jo Adell doesn’t just excel, he thrives. Even with the expected bumps and bruises of player development he still manages to find his spots to excel in, and as expected those little spots are growing and growing into something much bigger for this young star.
Jo Adell #3
H.H: You hit 5 HR’s & 30 RBIs in 2017 and this season you blew up Low A ball with 6 HR’s & 29 RBI’s in half the plate appearances. What have you been working on to evolve that power?
Adell: For me at the plate it’s really simple. I go in with the mindset that, if I’m in rhythm with the pitcher as far as my hands and lower half, I’m gonna be ready to attack early. I’ve seen so far this season that early in the game, early in counts, I’m getting something to handle. I’m always ready to jump early, if I can then I do and I try to make the best of it.
H.H: You slug over .700 with 2 outs and RISP (runners in scoring position), how does your mentality change in high pressure situations?
Adell: I just think less is more. With two outs and having RISP like that the defense is a little shaky as is. They don’t want to give those runs in and have to deal with that, they’re trying to make the plays. For me I know I’m getting something to hit, they wanna get out of the inning and as long as I don’t try to do too much I’ll be able to drive that ball and get those runs in.
H.H: What kind of adjustments have you made at the plate since joining the 66ers?
Adell: It’s just understanding that a lot of these guys are college pitchers that are more advanced and just understanding what they’re trying to do. If you get in the box and you don’t know what the pitchers trying to do to you it makes it kind of tough. For me it’s been going out to the box and looking for what I want to drive, looking for a pitch in a certain spot. If it’s not there early in the count, then just take those pitches. At the end of the day you can’t hit everything.
So just being locked in on a zone, zone-hitting. Trying to figure out, “can I get this pitch? Is this pitch going to be in a zone where I can drive it?” and if it gets there early in the count, like I said earlier, then I’m ready to go.
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2017 Slash Line: .325/.376/.532
If there is one constant with the athlete in Jo Adell, it that the performance will always come. We saw it with his high school production and now as he begins to round the more difficult curve of High A ball this constant is still thriving. Adell is currently thrashing the ball about with an 8 game hitting streak going strong, four of those games being multi-hit affairs. In that span Adell has slapped 2 HR’s, 4 Doubles, and 5 RBI’s. His hottest slash line as a 66er came only days ago (June 11th) in form of a 3 hit, two RBI affair that came partnered with 3 runs, a walk and zero strikeouts.
Adell may have had a rough go of it when first joining the 66ers, but that’s to be expected with the learning curve presented by the High A level. In his first 40 at-bats, he batted at a .175 level with 12 K’s. In the last week Adell has hit at a .407/.429/.741 clip, and just as it was said earlier: the performance always comes. That’s the constant that elevates him from being a top-talent to potential superstar. He has the character, the drive, the passion, and the talent to be as big as he wants to be.
2018 Power Totals: 11 HR’s, 41 RBIs, 13 Doubles, 2 Triples, .532 SLG%
H.H: As a 2017 first round pick by the Angels, how does it feel watching the organization continue to bring in top-level talent with this years draft?
Adell: It’s awesome sitting and watching some of the young guys that we took early this year. It’s gonna be really exciting, it’s gonna be really explosive. We have a bunch of great athletes; guys that are willing to play the game and play hard. It’s really cool to see that it’s already been a year and some of these guys are in my spot, where I was at last year. It’s kinda cool to be able to see some of the picks, some of the guys we’ve taken so far and I’m looking forward to meeting those guys.
H.H: What kind of expectations do you have for yourself being the Angels top prospect?
Adell: For me it’s not really a “top prospect” thing, it’s more of individually what I’m trying to do as a player. That’s staying in every pitch, every at-bat and learning from what happens. Now I’m playing with guys who a lot older than they [teammates] were when I was in Low A Ball. It’s really just soaking it in, learning as much as I can, not giving up at-bats and playing great defense.
H.H: The 66ers are in the middle of a thick playoff hunt with all teams within 2 games of each other. How does that feed into your natural competitive state?
Adell: It kind of stays the same, it always has a winning mentality. Everybody on this team does here, we play well together, we try to come together and get W’s. Everybody is working on something, we’re trying to stay within ourselves, but baseball’s weird; sometimes the ball falls the wrong way. For us it’s just bouncing back day after day cause you’re gonna have those losses, you’re gonna go down and it’s important to come back to the field like yesterday didn’t even happen.
Jo Adell #3
The Angels haven’t had the opportunity to watch a player of this magnitude grow in years. A guy you can just point your finger at and know he has the potential to rise to the top. Higher than the top, because he is an Angel after all, and we know Angels don’t settle for earthly dominion. Jo Adell plays the game with an elevated maturity that makes it seem like he’s come from another world to play the game of baseball.
Now, we all know athletes are human, and it would be strange to expect anything other. Yet when you have someone like Jo Adell, an athlete who exists in the “super” levels of talent and potential, things begin looking a little bigger than just being a top prospect. I don’t want to make comparisons with a developing athlete, but the fact is there are few athletes in the game who exist and perform in the realms beyond human; guys like Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Justin Verlander, David Ortiz, and Adrian Beltre.
Jo Adell doesn’t just have the potential to perform at an elevated level beyond his peers such as these aforementioned folk; potential describes something that is to come and Adell already has that super-human spunk in his baseball game. All that’s left is to manage and grow beyond the scrapes and cuts of Minor League development and continue and allow his game to blossom as he grows not only as an athlete, but as a person. He’s only 19, and with the level of growth he’s already obtained it’s clear the maturity he still has to foster will take him to levels greater than ones expectations, even for a first round draft pick.
The future in Anaheim is bright, and that future is named Jo Adell.