Jo Adell made his Major League debut to mixed results in 2020. The toolsy outfielder still has a bright future in Los Angeles despite an opening salvo of .220/.294/.266 across 132 plate appearances. His output last season can be taken with a grain of salt, however. If not for the bizarre circumstances of 2020, the 21-year-old likely would have spent the season in Triple-A.
Apparently, that’s where he’ll return at least for the beginning of 2021, per Maria Torres of the Los Angels Times. Manager Joe Maddon didn’t leave a lot of room for interpretation: “He needs more time in the minor leagues, no question.” Adell turns 22 years old in April, so more time in the minors hardly counts as a setback for the former first-rounder.
Still, the news might challenge some assumptions about the makeup of the Angels roster heading into 2021. With Adell ticketed for the minors, new GM Perry Minasian will no doubt explore free agent outfielders as a short-term stopgap.
Mike Trout and Justin Upton have hammerlocks on center and left. Taylor Ward and Jared Walsh are the only other outfielders on the roster. Both Ward and Walsh are 27 years old, and while they aren’t exactly top prospects, both raked with the Salt Lake Bees in 2019. Walsh stayed hot into the 2020 season, slashing .293/.324/.646 in 108 plate appearances. They both boast some power potential, but if the Angels anticipate Adell spending a healthy chunk of 2021 in Triple-A, they may want insurance beyond that pair.
David Fletcher has spent a fair amount of time in the outfield grass, but he’s presently slated for every-down reps at second base. Still, Fletcher’s presence gives the club some flexibility when looking to build out the roster for 2021. Prospects Jahmai Jones and Brandon Marsh could also theoretically enter the outfield picture while Adell gets more seasoning time in Triple-A.
As ever, don’t expect Shohei Ohtani to roam the grass. Maddon fully expects Ohtani to return to the rotation, and any other playing time is likely to come at designated hitter. Though Ohtani no doubt has the capability of playing the outfield, the Angels have long tabled that possibility.