Pressure Falls on Jo Adell, Angels To Unlock His Potential This Spring

Out of minor league options, Jo Adell's future with the Los Angeles Angels will very likely be decided this spring.

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 28, 2022: Jo Adell #7 of the Los Angeles Angels bats during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Angels Stadium on April 28, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

With a new era dawning in Anaheim as the Shohei Ohtani chapter closes and the Ron Washington chapter opens for the Los Angeles Angels, one thing remains true and constant … the question of Jo Adell and if he really has a future with the franchise.

There is no question that Adell possesses an immense amount of talent on the diamond. Selected 10th overall in the 2017 MLB draft, Adell has hit well at every minor league level, including a cumulative .272/.349/.556 slash line in 980 Triple-A plate appearances. The problem for the Angels, however, is that those kinds of numbers simply haven’t shown themselves when Adell has had the chance to play with the big league club.

In 618 MLB plate appearances over four seasons, Adell is slashing just .214/.259/.366 and has struck out in 219 of his 580 at-bats. His 35.4% strikeout percentage is well above the MLB average of 22.9%, showing there is still a disconnect between Adell’s talent and his being able to hit against MLB pitchers.

Last season, Adell not only struggled at the plate (.207/.258/.448 with 25 strikeouts in 62 plate appearances) but also with his health, as an oblique injury cost him much of the second half of the season. Once he returned in September, after the Angels were out of the postseason race and had jettisoned many of their trade deadline acquisitions, Adell simply couldn’t find his rhythm at the plate, striking out in 16 of his 40 at-bats while hitting just .200.

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Adell’s defense has also been an issue, as he has posted a combined -7 Outs Above Average in his time with Anaheim. Often when a player isn’t strong on defense, he can find playing time at the designated hitter spot. However, when a player is having trouble making contact, that option goes out the window as well.

Therein lies the problem with Adell. While the Angels have preached patience in the past when it comes to the young outfielder, the clock is officially ticking this spring for the soon-to-be 25-year-old. He needs to finally find his stride.

Adell is out of minor league options, meaning there is nowhere for the Angels to stash him in 2024 should he struggle this spring. With Aaron Hicks now a part of the Angels organization after signing a one-year deal for the league minimum, the outfield is suddenly crowded in Anaheim. Mike Trout, Taylor Ward and Mickey Moniak are already there, and adding Hicks feels much like a move to either push Adell toward winning his spot or push him off the roster.

Hicks said that shortly after signing, he was told by general manager Perry Minasian and Washington that he would be an everyday player. Knowing how the rest of the roster is shaping up, that leaves a lot of questions about Adell’s future with the Halos.

Those questions will be answered this spring. Adell’s play in Cactus League games could either secure his spot on the team (if Los Angeles indeed chooses to keep five outfielders on the roster) or set him up to be a waiver or trade candidate.

And that creates a tough situation for Minasian. If Adell performs this spring, can Washington’s roster work with five outfielders, including a future Hall of Famer in Trout who seems destined for a date with the injury bug every year? If Adell struggles, are the Angels really ready to give up on a player who was so highly touted as one of the potential faces of the future of the franchise?

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Moreover, it’s no guarantee that spring statistics will really give much insight into Adell’s ability to produce in 2024. There are plenty of examples of hot Marchs that turn into cold Aprils and Mays, and if Adell does indeed show his skills in Arizona, the Angels will have to determine if that is fool’s gold or not.

Certainly, plenty that happens this spring can have an effect on Adell’s future with the Angels, including his performance, potential injuries and more. However, while there may be many factors at play, one thing is sure … the clock on Adell’s future with the Halos is not only ticking, but ticking quite loud.