Top prospect Jo Adell is just like every other Angels player, ready to play and just waiting on the word when MLB spring training will resume.
When you are the top prospect for your organization and slated to make your MLB debut, the worst thing you can hear is that your season is canceled. For Jo Adell and the Angels, the timing of the shutdown could be especially painful.
Adell, who enters the season with the most hype of any Angels’ minor leaguer since Mike Trout, was hoping to use a strong spring training to crack the 40-man roster and make the major league roster at just 21-years-old. The outfielder missed out on making that impression during his first camp in 2019, owing to ankle and hamstring issues suffered during a Cactus League game.
Adell recovered nicely last season, hitting .289/.359/.475 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 305 at-bats across three different levels. He followed that up with an impressive showing during the Arizona Fall League, delivering a .273/.351/.444 slash line with three home runs and nine RBI during the fall prospect showcase. That earned him consensus top prospect rankings heading into the 2020 season (Baseball America- #3, MLB.com – #6, Baseball Prospectus – #2).
While speaking to Jerry Bembry of The Undefeated, Adell touched on a number of topics from the cancellation of spring training to returning home to Louisville, Kentucky during the ongoing protests and the Black Lives Matter movement. He also touches on his own experiences with racial inequality as a black man, putting into perspective how difficult it has been to overcome stereotypes, judgment, and even athletic scouting while being a black man in America (this alone is worth the read and I highly encourage it).
In addition to those tumultuous times, Adell has also been trying to keep himself ready to play and hopes to continue the momentum he was building before camp shut down.
"“Since leaving Arizona in March, I’ve continued to work hard and tried to keep myself ready to return to baseball. We’re so used to a rhythm of a baseball season, and right now I try to stay mentally sharp knowing that I can get a text any day saying that we’re going to start spring training in a week.”"
Of course, the question is whether or not the game will return at all. With the owners and players’ union at odds over compensation and the calendar dwindling away, the possibility hangs on a thread. However, Jo Adell knows what is on the line for him in 2020, knowing that his clearest path in a shortened season would be through roster expansions.
"“It would be great, if baseball returns, that I could possibly be a part of the major league team if there are roster expansions. To be able to travel with the team, be around the players on a regular basis and get that experience would help with my development.”"
With the year likely shortened and Adell not yet part of the 40-man roster, the Angels may opt not to promote him in 2020. Without being on the 40-man roster, the outfielder is unable accrue service time, and the team could essentially gain an extra year of control over his contract by keeping him in the minor. However, with no plan for minor league baseball this season, and the league yet to finalize any discussion of expanded fall leagues, keeping Adell from getting playing time could also impact his development.
"“To me, a return to baseball would be a return to a life that’s somewhat normal. For players and fans, it just might provide an escape.”"
Like Jo Adell, we all want that escape and hope for the return of baseball in 2020. As Angels fans, we’d also love to see the top prospect get his first chance in the big leagues as well. He’s ready to play and we are ready to watch.
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Will we see Jo Adell on the Angels roster in 2020? Will there be a 2020 season? Let us know your thoughts.