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OC Register: Alexander: For Angels prospect Jo Adell, Cal League has been a breeze


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RANCHO CUCAMONGA — Someday, if Jo Adell becomes a major league star, the journal might be a sought-after piece of baseball memorabilia.

Adell, the 10th player selected in the 2017 draft by the Angels out of Ballard High in Louisville, Ky., is laying waste to the Cal  League just as he did to the Arizona Rookie League, the Pioneer League and the Midwest League before this. He did go hitless Tuesday night at Rancho Cucamonga, ending an 11-game hitting streak, but the Inland Empire 66ers’ 19-year-old center fielder was hitting .314 in 37 games in the Cal League going into Wednesday’s games, with 10 homers, 24 RBIs, 11 doubles, two triples, a .936 OPS and seven stolen bases in eight attempts.

He has had 12 multi-hit games in the Cal League, and five three-hit games. And before arriving in San Bernardino, he played 24 games at Burlington (Iowa) of the Midwest League with six homers, 29 RBIs, seven doubles, a .300 average and a .979 OPS. Baseball America currently lists him as the Angel organization’s No. 2 prospect, and the only reason he’s not higher is that the magazine still lists Shohei Ohtani as a prospect.

There are, of course, Adell’s strikeouts: 45 in 159 at-bats with Inland Empire, 26 in 90 at-bats in Burlington. We’ll get to those.

The journal? It is Adell’s method of keeping track of the pitchers he faces and the way they approach him, and it’s indicative of a cerebral approach to hitting.

“One of the best things I’ve done,” he said. “Kind of (keep track of) what pitches I saw, where they were located. And before we face a guy that we’ve seen before, I just go back and revisit that and kind of understand what they’re trying to do.

“Most of my outs this year have been me getting myself out. The pitcher is trying to execute a pitch, he’s trying to throw something for a reason. So you need to understand why that is.”

It could be a baseball time capsule. Who knows? A decade from now, some of the pitchers he’s facing (and chronicling) now might be successful big leaguers themselves.

Adell’s baseline approach is to look for location, especially early in counts. When he first moved up to the Cal League, he said, pitchers were challenging him with fastballs, and when he started jumping on those he noticed he was seeing offspeed pitches early and fastballs later in the count.

“For me, the big thing is don’t necessarily assume,” he said. “React.

“A lot of times when they say the hitters get fooled, it has to do with the assumption, not the reaction part of the game. That’s what hitting is, reaction. We can sit (on) a pitch, we can think something’s coming, we can have everything the right way – and you get a curveball on a fastball count. You get thrown off, you know? So that’s the big thing: clear-mind it, know what zone I’m looking for, and be a reactionary hitter. And that’s what I’ve done.”

There were said to be questions about his ability to hit at the pro level going into the 2017 draft. The foot speed and athletic ability were there in a 6-foot-3, 205-pound package, and he projected as a superior defensive outfielder, whether it be in center (his preferred position) or a corner spot.

And consider: He could have been drafted as a pitcher, which might be part of the reason the chess match between hitter and pitcher intrigues him so. He was primarily a pitcher through the end of his junior year at Ballard.

“Good fastball, could get up in the mid-90s, upper-90s from time to time, slider,” was Adell’s scouting report on himself.

“But I always loved to hit,” he added. “Every team I played for, it would be, ‘We want him to pitch on Sunday but we’ll let him hit through the week.’”

Sound familiar, Angels fans? In this case, Adell enjoyed pitching but loved hitting and was willing to give up one to concentrate on the other. Years from now, if the Ohtani experiment is ultimately deemed a success, young players might not have to make that choice.

In the meantime, Adell traded a position that treasures strikeouts for one in which they are worrisome. But while the minor league analysts wonder if those strikeout totals portend difficulty when Adell gets to higher levels, he sees them as the cost of doing business.

“I say this before a game: Even if I get fooled on a pitch or I swing at a pitch that’s out of the zone, I’m not going to sacrifice a good swing just to hit the ball,” he said. “I could go into a game and just try to make contact, right? But when I get in the box I’m trying to do damage, and you’re going to get some swings and misses.

“I’ve watched big league games this year where guys have gotten down in the count quickly and hit home runs, and it’s because they trusted their swing … I’m going to put up my best swing every single time. And if things don’t fall my way, if I strike out, then it’s part of the game.”

I believe that approach is known as “high risk, high reward.” It has worked for Adell to this point, and it likely will earn him a promotion to Double-A before this season ends.

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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His mental makeup is off the charts, like that of Jam Jones. Both of them are mature beyond their years, especially in terms of understanding the game, and the necessary work they need to put in to be successful at it. Every scout I've talked to about them always talk about that as one of their defining characteristics, and keys to their success. 

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On 7/4/2018 at 6:00 AM, AngelsWin.com said:

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“I say this before a game: Even if I get fooled on a pitch or I swing at a pitch that’s out of the zone, I’m not going to sacrifice a good swing just to hit the ball,” he said. “I could go into a game and just try to make contact, right? But when I get in the box I’m trying to do damage, and you’re going to get some swings and misses.

“I’ve watched big league games this year where guys have gotten down in the count quickly and hit home runs, and it’s because they trusted their swing … I’m going to put up my best swing every single time. And if things don’t fall my way, if I strike out, then it’s part of the game.”

I believe that approach is known as “high risk, high reward.” It has worked for Adell to this point, and it likely will earn him a promotion to Double-A before this season ends.

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

View the full article

I cant say I'm enthralled with this philosophy. This is the current philosophy that has led to more Ks than hits in MLB for two of the past three months. When he says "good swing", I am reading "hard swing". No wonder he is striking out over 25% of the time.

Be a situational  hitter. If you are up with two outs and RISP, dont be reluctant to meet the ball and go for a single. Choke up a little. Go the other way with the pitch. Certain pitch locations in EVERY hitters' swing is not for swinging hard.

So many times this season, guys like Upton or Kinsler come up only needing a single and yet are swinging for the fences.............and failing miserably. Afterwards, I find myself wishing Eckstein had been up there, fer chrissakes. .

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16 hours ago, WeatherWonk said:

I cant say I'm enthralled with this philosophy. This is the current philosophy that has led to more Ks than hits in MLB for two of the past three months. When he says "good swing", I am reading "hard swing". No wonder he is striking out over 25% of the time.

Be a situational  hitter. If you are up with two outs and RISP, dont be reluctant to meet the ball and go for a single. Choke up a little. Go the other way with the pitch. Certain pitch locations in EVERY hitters' swing is not for swinging hard.

So many times this season, guys like Upton or Kinsler come up only needing a single and yet are swinging for the fences.............and failing miserably. Afterwards, I find myself wishing Eckstein had been up there, fer chrissakes. .

Simmons rarely strikes out, hits the ball to all fields, and is carrying a high BA this season. He has a .269 career BA. This is his best offensive season so far, but he won't hit many HR. Judge hit 52 HR last year, but SO 208x @31% clip. He also had a .422 OBP, and a 1.049 OPS.

Adell is probably going to be somewhere in between the two which isn't all bad.

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Swing and miss is going to be part of his DNA as a hitter throughout his whole career.

Can he do enough damage at the big league level when he makes contact to make the strikeouts not a concern.

In 2017:

Mike Napoli 163k, .713 OPS

K Broxton 175k, .719 OPS

J Bautista 170k, .674 OPS

C Davis 195k, .732 OPS

This is quite different than:

A Judge 208k, 1.049 OPS

J Gallo 196k, .869 OPS

J Upton 180k, .901 OPS

M Stanton 163k, 1.007 OPS

I don't like strikeouts but I also do not automatically believe someone who strikes out at the highest rates are doomed.  Some of them are still beasts.

I hope Adell evolves into one of these high producers who just happen to make many of their outs  by strikeout. 

 

 

 

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Yes, but.............

Your two best examples, Judge and Stanton, DRAW LOTS OF WALKS. Judge led the league in walks last year. That boosts their OPS, combined with their power. Gallo also draws a decent amount of walks, as does Upton (at least in the years you chose). Both Gallo and Upton drew walks at over twice the rate of Adell. Judge and Stanton far more than that.

I get it that he's young and learning. But there's no harm in getting a better idea of what a ball is at an early age. Plate discipline is sorely lacking in MLB, on the whole.

If he drew more walks and swung at better pitches (implied by his low walk rate), his K rate would probably go down. There are sluggers with plate discipline.

I really do appreciate people highlighting our farm hands during the season. I just never think to do it. Looks like he has good potential.

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7 hours ago, Ace-Of-Diamonds said:

Simmons rarely strikes out, hits the ball to all fields, and is carrying a high BA this season. He has a .269 career BA. This is his best offensive season so far, but he won't hit many HR. Judge hit 52 HR last year, but SO 208x @31% clip. He also had a .422 OBP, and a 1.049 OPS.

Adell is probably going to be somewhere in between the two which isn't all bad.

So one way or another, hes gonna have bad teeth?

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