Top Angels prospect Jo Adell won’t have a chance to force his way into the big leagues this year through his play at Triple-A, but that may not be altogether necessary. GM Billy Eppler says that he anticipates Adell will have the opportunities he needs to show the team he’s ready, as Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times was among those to report.
That’s certainly far from a guarantee that Adell is going to debut in 2020. But Eppler says the Halos intend to structure their second preparatory camp in such a way that the talented 21-year-old will see plenty of competitive action.
“There’s some upside to the intrasquad format,” says Eppler, who explained that the organization anticipates staging contests between its major and minor-league participants. “We’ll just have to keep getting [Adell] at-bats. There’s going to be talented pitchers over there for him to face and we’ll go from there.”
Adell is by most accounts one of the five best overall prospects in baseball. On the whole, he has done nothing but impress since the Angels took him out of high school with the tenth overall pick of the 2017 draft. But having only just turned 21, Adell does probably have a few more boxes to check before he’s handed the keys to an outfield spot alongside Mike Trout.
Last year, after working through some early-season injuries, Adell laid wasted to High-A and Double-A pitching but showed his age a bit after moving to the highest level of the minors. All told, he finished with 340 plate appearances of .289/.359/.475 hitting. Adell was productive, but not overwhelmingly so, in a 24-game Arizona Fall League stint (.273/.351/.444).
It was never likely that Adell would force his way onto the Opening Day roster, with legitimate remaining developmental goals alongside service-time consideration. Any faint hope dissipated as he struck out 13 times in his 26 Cactus League plate appearances.
With an odd and uncertain 2020 season now on the docket, the Angels will surely take a flexible approach to handling Adell. The plan, clearly, is to get him as many reps as possible. If there’s a need and opportunity at the MLB level, and Adell seems ready, there’s not much reason for the Halos to hold back on a promotion. (Service time will be pro-rated. So long as Adell spends a few days off of the active roster, he won’t qualify for a full year of MLB service.) Making a surprise run at the division in a short-season format may well hinge upon the ability to call upon such a special talent.