A sprint down the line and a laser throw home hinted at the promise of Jo Adell. Two strikeouts against veteran Colorado Rockies pitchers on Sunday underscored the learning curve the Los Angeles Angels’ top prospect embraces.
"I’m just working hard every day to try and play in the big leagues anywhere I can,’’ said the 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-handed hitter.
Picked 10th overall in the 2017 draft, Adell has a combined .273 batting average with a .351 on-base percentage and .444 slugging percentage in three minor league seasons. He played 21 games in Triple-A last season and hit .321.
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In his second spring training, he is soaking up the wisdom from veteran outfielders, including three-time AL MVP Mike Trout.
“With Trout and a lot of the guys who are veteran players, you watch and you learn and you try to pick up on things they do well and try to add them to your own game,’’ Adell said. “That’s what I’ve gotten out of the past two years being in camp with these guys.’’
New Angels manager Joe Maddon is pleased with the progress of a youngster who won’t turn 21 until next month.
“He’s hit some balls really well to right center so far,’’ Maddon said. “Talking with a him a lot obviously, he’s a very confident young man with really good abilities all the way around."
"Whether it is running, hitting, hitting with power, the whole defensive gig, he’s got it all going on and he’s really young," he said. "When you look at him, you don’t realize that. He’s 20? Maybe 21? He’s going to keep getting better. He’s really eager. He wants to learn. He’s got a lot of great qualities. The sky's the limit, absolutely.’’
In his first at-bat Sunday, against German Marquez, Adell took a high fastball, whiffed on a slider, took a slider in the dirt, fouled back a 97 mph fastball and was frozen on an 87 mph slider for a called strike three.
Next time up, Adell swung and missed at two curveballs while striking out against right-handed veteran Wade Miley. Adell grounded out to third base on the first pitch of his final at-bat and his blazing speed was evident as he got down the line.
In the fifth, Adell made a catch in right field and fired home, nearly cutting down Chris Owings, who had tagged up from third.
His speed and instincts make Adell a natural leadoff hitter. In Sunday’s split squad game, a 6-3 loss to the Rockies, he batted third.
“Every position in the lineup has its own tasks,’’ Adell said. “It is pretty cool to bounce around and try to figure that out. It has made me a better hitter. When I first got drafted, it was 2-or 3- hole, and then I started to lead off, and it made contact more of the emphasis.’’
With Trout blocking his way in center field, Adell is likely to play right field or left field when he answers the call to the big leagues. In training camp outfield drills, he has played all three outfield positions.
“I’m moving around,’’ he said. “That’s our big thing, being versatile.’’
NOTES: RHP Griffin Canning will undergo more tests Wednesday or Thursday because after the most recent tests, he did not feel up to throwing. “We don’t have any definitive answers yet,’’ Maddon said of the mysterious ailment. “… It is a joint versus a ligament situation.’’ Canning’s injury could mean time on the injured list, opening up competition in the rotation among young left-handers Patrick Sandoval, 23, and Jose Suarez, 22, newly acquired right-hander Matt Andriese, 30, and right-hander Jaime Barria, 23. Suarez tossed three innings against the Rockies, including four regulars, and held them scoreless and hitless with two strikeouts and one walk. ... Sandoval struck out two and allowed no hits in two innings against the White Sox at Tempe Diablo Stadium. ... Top acquisition Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer against White Sox LHP Ross Detwiler to improve his Cactus League average to .667. According to Maddon, Rendon has made a “perfect” assimilation to the Angels. “He is as he appears,’’ Maddon said. “Kind of a quiet guy, brimming with confidence. The game, I don’t think, will never be too quick for him. With the rest of the group, he has this little subtle sense of humor, which I kind of like. … His at-bats have been spectacular already."