Prospect: Jo Adell
Level: Rookie Ball
Age: Entering Age 19 season in 2018.
Height: 6’2” – Weight: 195 lbs
Floor: Minor League depth.
Ceiling: MVP candidate type of player in the major leagues.
Likely Outcome: A star starting outfielder in the major leagues.
Summary: It’s a rare thing, to have a high school kid with as much upside as Jo Adell has. In fact, he has more upside than everyone in minor league baseball not named Shohei Ohtani, who through a series of fortunate events, happens to play in the same organization as Jo Adell. Of course, when someone so talented plays, there are going to be a lot of doubters, and Adell has had his fair share of them already in his young career. Though to be fair, even Mike Trout had doubters after his first two MVP caliber seasons in the majors.
The Angels drafted Adell with the tenth overall pick of the 2017 draft, and really the only reason he didn’t go 1-1 is simply a lack of track record. Adell has been on the collegiate radar since he was in the eighth grade, which is mind boggling itself, but Jo really didn’t begin attracting many major league scouts until his junior year. Even then, the scouting reports had statements like, “swing is too long”, “lack of pitch recognition”, and “very raw” included in them. Sure, there were other terms like “projectable”, “quick hands” and “strong athlete” included, but they didn’t fully offset the negatives. Teams generally want a more proven entity when picking first in the draft. No one wants to miss with 1-1.
But by the time Jo Adell’s senior year was finished, he’d led the nation in home runs, shortened his swing, and was just plain bigger, stronger and faster than any of his teammates, and himself a year earlier. A few prospects could keep with him in terms of foot speed. A few older prospects could hit the ball with as much authority as he did. And still a few more threw the ball as hard as he did, and played the outfield as well as he did. But not a single one could do it all. Not in this draft, and not in any draft in the last few years.
So I can understand why scouts thought it might be too good to be true.
But the Angels were more than willing to take that chance.
Upon signing, Adell went to the Arizona affiliate and started his professional career off with a bang. An eight game hitting streak, and it wasn’t just a bloop single here or there. It was 13 hits in eight games and a batting average near .500. After scattered hits over the next couple games, Adell then followed with a nine game hit streak (14 more hits across those nine games).
After Adell earned himself a promotion half way through the short season, and against the majority of newly drafted collegiate players, Adell collected 34 hits in his last 17 games, which was good for another hitting streak, this one 16 games in length.
So as you can see, it turned out that Jo Adell was even better than the scouting report suggested, which was already a glowing report coming out of high school. When we start looking for weaknesses in his game, we really have to dig deep. For example, while Adell is a very good hitter, he does have a tendency to swing a miss. Not a ton, where it’s a problem, but enough to keep an eye on it. He also didn’t watch too many pitches, though any hitter with his success swinging the bat would be tempted to swing at everything he saw. He does have a tendency to get out in front on a breaking ball, and because of his long load and how far he brings his hands back, Adell can be susceptible to a good fastball letter high.
Again, these are little things. Nothing major. And I think the biggest advantage that Adell has is time. Inevitably, more advanced pitching is going to find holes in his approach or his swing, and it will be up to Adell to make the adjustments. But at just 19 years old, Adell will have several years to develop and get past those. The top comp that’s been thrown around for Jo Adell is Byron Buxton, and that seems relatively accurate. When Buxton was first drafted, he had slightly less power than Adell and slightly more speed. Adell is a better hitter, but Buxton had better pitch recognition. Buxton covers a little more room in CF, but Adell has a better arm. But overall, the caliber of player should be similar.
Like Buxton once he reaches his prime, Adell once he reaches his prime will likely threaten to be a 30/30 hitter.
What to expect: With the way he torched rookie ball, Adell should start the year in Class A Burlington. Stepping up to full season ball this quickly is typically a big challenge for even the best prospects, but I believe Adell is up to the task. If he plays the way he’s capable of, we may even see Jo cover both levels of A Ball in his age 19 season. For me, I’ll be closely monitoring his K/BB ratio, because that will tell me if Adell’s success is due to legitimate development, or if his natural ability is simply allowing him to cut through the competition. And like Marsh and Jones before him, as a fan it will be fun to keep track of the HR/SB numbers. With a player like Adell, it’s also fun to track triples.
Estimated Time of Arrival: 2021, Jordon’s age 22 season.
Grade as a prospect: A
Grades Explained: Grade A player is a future superstar. Grade B player is a future regular. Grade C is a fringe major leaguer.