Angels prospect Jo Adell already a who’s who in baseball

Tahoe Onstage

Jo Adell, above, is destined to be a right or left fielder for the Angels. Mike Trout has center field covered.
Andrew Wevers / Tahoe Onstage photos

Before he was recognized as a top baseball prospect, Jordon Scott Adell had to change his name.

Adell and teammate Jordan Gunter shared the same first name since Little League all the way through their careers at Ballard High School in Louisville, Kentucky.

For the sake of the team, Adell was nicknamed “Jo” to help his coaches identify who was who.

“We used to play on the same team when I was 7 or 8 years old,” he said. “We both look alike so one of us had to pick a nickname to differentiate the team. Coaches would yell ‘Jordan, come in and hit’ and we’d both go out there. So it was one of those things, we were both pretty adamant on keeping our names. … So the team got together and gave me the nickname ‘Jo’ and it’s stuck with me ever since.”

I’m selectively aggressive, that’s the way I put it. I don’t discriminate against any pitches.”

In a short time, people became familiar with the name Jo Adell . The 20-year-old ascended through the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system. He was promoted to Triple-A Salt Lake on Aug. 1. According to MLB Pipeline, he is the No. 4 prospect.

The 10th pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft, It’s not a question of if, but when, Adell will be called up to the Angels.

“I’m not too worried about it,” he said. “I’m excited to perform no matter where I’m at. If it happens, it happens, and I try not to put that pressure on myself.”

Adell went 3-for-5 with two RBIs in the Bees’ 5-3 victory over the Reno Aces Thursday in his first appearance at Greater Nevada Field.

The outfielder flashed his five-tool potential on Thursday. At the plate, his quick hands and smooth right-handed swing made hard contact to all sides of the field. His second hit of the game zipped right up the middle past shortstop Domingo Leyba that skipped into center field.

His fifth plate appearance had an exit velocity of 110 mph off the bat, scoring a run for Salt Lake in the eighth.

Andrew Wevers /Tahoe Onstage

On the base paths, his lightning-quick speed easily stole second base in the sixth inning without a throw from Aces catcher Alberto Rosario.

Concerns from scouts and executives over Adell’s ability to hit for power at the pro level caused him to slip to the No. 10 pick. He’s erased any question about his long-ball capability. He had 10 homers and 15 doubles with a .944 OPS in 43 games with Double-A Mobile.

Adell launched two home runs with the Bees on Wednesday against the Tacoma Rainiers, but the game was canceled in the fifth inning. Those stats don’t count toward his season total.

“I’m selectively aggressive, that’s the way I put it,” he said. “I don’t discriminate against any pitches. A curveball down the middle is just as good as a fastball down the middle, so that’s one of the things that’ll help me looking forward.”

Playing right field, Adell tracked down a sharp line drive from Ben DeLuzio in the second inning. He’s established a routine in the corner outfield spots for Salt Lake. He has 11 stars in right field, three in center and three more in left.

Two-time American League MVP Mike Trout covers center field for the Angles. As a result, Adell has been used in left and right field this season in Double-A and Triple-A. He’s already showed off a strong arm in right field, throwing out El Paso Chihuahuas outfielder Rodrigo Orozco at home plate on Aug. 17.

Adell has the tools, and his defensive flexibility in the outfield points toward his bright future at the next level.

“It’s been my defense that I’m most proud of this year,” he said. “I’ve played a lot more corners this year and that’s been my focus, playing lock-down defense out there as much as I can. I think I’ve done a good job of it so far, a lot of that is putting in the work before the game even starts.”

No matter where Adell starts, Trout will join him in center field in the big leagues. Adell was the Angels’ highest-drafted outfield prospect since Trout was taken 25th in the 2009 draft. The players can potentially team up in Anaheim when MLB rosters expand to 40 active players in September.

Adell has already examined parts of Trout’s game during spring training this past season.

“He’s the best player in the game right now,” Adell said. “I’ve been able to learn from him in spring training and pick up on some of the things he’s doing. It’s pretty exciting to be able to team up with him and the rest of those guys, it gives me that motivation.”

Before his rise in the minors, Adell was a two-position star at Ballard High School. He was committed to the University of Louisville as a freshman in 2014.

His 1.55 ERA and 55 strikeouts as a starting pitcher led the team in his junior year. He followed it up at the plate with 25 homers and 61 RBIs as a senior outfielder, taking home the Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year award.

Adell was equipped with mid-90s heat on the mound, but he chose to be a versatile position player with plenty of pop instead.

“I didn’t really have a preference at first,” he said. “I primarily played the outfield. But I loved the competitiveness in pitching, having the ball in your hands was huge for me.

“It was tough to give up, but you understand what’s best for you and your career. I had to decide. The month I knew I wanted to hit, that’s when I decided to be an outfielder.”

Los Angeles selected Adell in 2017 and he waived his commitment to Louisville. He’s made back-to-back appearances in the MLB Futures Game, competing against the league’s top prospects.

He was 1-for-2 with two walks and a run in this year’s event.

“It’s an experience more than anything to show you want to be apart of it,” he said. “Being able to represent an organization is important. It was all motivation for me.”

As Adell continues his rise through the Angels’ farm system, opposing pitchers have developed a scouting report on the young slugger. He’s received a heavy dose of off-speed sliders and curveballs that break away from the plate.

Adell has made the necessary changes by keeping his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame compact and tight to generate power and contact. It’s forced him to improve his plate discipline, as well.

“They really take notes about you,” he said. “I’ve been pounded by off-speed stuff this year, so it’s something I’ve adjusted to as the year goes along. They’re going to keep coming at you if you don’t lay off or handle them.”

With the MiLB season coming to a close, Adell is taking his approach game-by-game. It’s gotten him this far.

“My process is consistent every game,” he said. “I can’t get lazy and keep grinding through the year and make good decisions. As long as I do that, everything else comes into the fold.”

— Isaiah Burrows

Bees top Aces 5-3

The Aces offense mustered just four hits to drop Game 1 of the four-game series, the final 2019 games at Greater Nevada Field.

Alberto Rosario went 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season. Blake Swihart and Ben DeLuzio each had one RBI.

Salt Lake starting pitcher Nick Tropeano (4-6) surrendered two runs on two hits and four walks in five innings. Jake Sewell recorded his eighth save this season.

The Aces and Bees were tied 2-2 heading into the third. Salt Lake plated two more runs in the third. Reno answered with one run in the seventh. The Bees padded their lead with another run in the eighth.

Mathisen returns to Reno: Aces third baseman Wyatt Mathisen made his first appearance at Greater Nevada Field since July 7. He’s batting .288 with 23 homers and 67 RBIs in 84 games.

Notes: Former Ace Joel Payamps made his Major League debut Wednesday for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Colorado Rockies. The right-hander went three innings, allowed four hits and struck out three batters. … Kevin Cron is one home run shy to break the Aces franchise record for the most homers hit at home in a single season. He is tied with former 2017 Pacific Coast League MVP Christian Walker.

On Deck: Reno, 59-70, faces Salt Lake for the second game of the four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Friday at Greater Nevada Field. Braden Shipley is expected to take the hill for the Aces. Jose Suarez is the probable starting pitcher for the Bees.

About Isaiah Burrows

Tahoe Onstage sportswriter Isaiah Burrows also is a general assignment reporter for CarsonNow.org, an online news source in Carson City. He is a journalism major at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he writes sports for the Sagebrush student newspaper. He is the Reno Aces beat writer for Tahoe Onstage.

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