The Angels have recalled outfield prospect Jo Adell and right-hander Chris Rodriguez from Triple-A Salt Lake, per a club announcement. Rodriguez, who was in the team’s bullpen earlier this season, will make his first MLB start tonight against the Rangers.
This will be the second call to the Majors for Adell, 22, who struggle mightily in his first go-around last summer. At the time, Adell had just 27 Triple-A games under his belt when making the jump to the big leagues. He’d have garnered more experience there if possible, but the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season deprived him of that opportunity.
So far in 2021, Adell has certainly looked like a player who’s benefited from the extra developmental opportunity in Salt Lake. After hitting just .161/.212/.266 in 132 Major League plate appearances last summer, Adell has returned to Salt Lake and posted a hearty .289/.342/.592 slash with 23 home runs in 339 plate appearances. By measure of wRC+, that’s “only” about 19 percent better than league-average in a supercharged Triple-A offensive environment, but Adell’s recent work has certainly been improving. Since the calendar flipped to July, Adell has absolutely mashed to the tune of a .339/.387/.615 line. He’s dropped his long-problematic strikeout rate to 24.4 percent in that time.
Adell entered the 2020 season as a consensus Top 10 prospect in all of baseball and still ranked No. 13 on Baseball America’s preseason list heading into the current campaign. He fell a bit shy of a full year of service time in 2020, so the timing of his 2021 promotion has no real impact on his path to free agency. Adell accrued 153 days of service in 2020, leaving him 19 days shy of a full year. He’d have finished the current season as a one-plus player whether he was called up on Opening Day or called up on Sept. 1. The later nature of his promotion does remove the possibility of him qualifying as a Super Two player — barring future demotions that further alter his service time — but he’d have been controllable through the 2026 season in virtually any scenario that saw him called to the Majors in 2021.
As for Rodriguez, the 23-year-old righty is a well-regarded farmhand himself. He hasn’t drawn Adell’s level of national fanfare, but he impressed with 19 2/3 frames of 3.66 ERA relief as a 22-year-old earlier this season and will now transition into the rotation — a role the Angels hope he can hold down over the long term.
A back injury that ultimately required surgery has limited Rodriguez’s innings count since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. Accordingly, he’s pitched just 117 2/3 innings in total since that selection — including this year’s work both in the minors and in the big leagues. He’ll add a potential power arm to the team’s rotation mix, as he averaged just shy of 97 mph on his heater as a reliever earlier in the year. Given that lack of total innings, it’s not a surprise that the Angels started Rodriguez in the bullpen this year to limit his workload and build him up for future seasons.
Between Rodriguez and the recently promoted Reid Detmers, the Halos are hoping that some of their farm system’s most-promising arms can both help them claw back into the 2021 Wild Card hunt and also gain some vital experience for future seasons. Neither pitcher is guaranteed a spot in the 2022 rotation, but it stands to reason that the final two months could serve as an audition — as is the case with Adell in the corner outfield.