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OC Register: Angels’ Jo Adell motivated after dismal rookie season


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TEMPE, Ariz. — When Jo Adell looks back on his rookie season, he doesn’t see a .161 batting average, far too many strikeouts or a ball hitting his glove and popping over the fence.

All of that, in Adell’s eyes, was just the opportunity to improve.

“Having immediate success right off the bat would be great, absolutely,” Adell said. “But this was the best thing for me, to be able to have that type of struggle, to be able to take a step back and go, ‘Hey, you know what, Jo, you got some stuff you got to figure out.’

“It just lit a fire under my butt.”

That fire manifested itself in a winter of rebuilding his game, so that the tools that made him one of baseball’s top prospects could be converted into production at the big-league level.

Adell, 21, said he worked on quieting the lower half of his body in his swing. He’s working on staying on top of the ball. He’s cut down the swing that led to a strikeout in nearly half of his at-bats.

“You don’t get any extra points for hitting a 500-foot homer,” said Adell, who added that now he wants to “play pepper right up the middle, line shots to center and right-center.”

And on defense, Adell said he’s focused on quickness, doing speed and agility drills that he compared to what an NFL player might do.

“I kind of just went back to just trying to be the best athlete that I can,” Adell said. “I think when I got up last year I didn’t let myself play loosely. I played too reserved.”

Will it all be enough?

Just a few days into full-squad workouts, Manager Joe Maddon has liked what he’s seen from Adell, in terms of his actions on the field and the way he’s handled himself off it.

“He’s really a pleasure to work with,” Maddon said. “He knows there are things he has to work on. Already, when it comes to the offensive side, he’s making some good adjustments.”

Maddon said specifically that he’d like to Adell “flatten” his swing, rather than “attempting to lift the ball,” which is what so many hitters have begun trying to do in recent years.

Adell insists he was never trying to lift the ball, but concedes he does need to work on keeping his hands from dropping so the bat gets too much under the ball.

Adell also said simply having seen the way big-league pitchers attack him will be beneficial. He said he has a better idea now of the pitches he ought to attack and those he ought to just let go.

It remains to be seen how soon Adell will get his second crack at big-league pitching.

Maddon said in December that Adell needs more time in the minors, and the Angels then brought in three veteran outfielders – Dexter Fowler, Jon Jay and Juan Lagares – who all could hold down a big-league spot until Adell forces his way to the majors.

All of that could have been even more motivation for Adell, but he said he’s not thinking in those terms.

“I love this game, and I don’t care if I play in a sandlot,” Adell said. “For me, I’m going out competing, putting 110 percent out here every day, keeping the energy level high. That’s something I told myself I would do this year: come out with some pep in my step and ready to go. If that’s in Salt Lake, if it’s in Anaheim, wherever it is, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m here to bring it full force.”

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Apart from a small amount of players who somehow had a raw ability I've never bought into the whole extra motivated thing.

I guarantee regardless what we all think of Adell and his projections lack of motivation is not an ingredient.

99.99% of those who make it to MLB have a motivation and determination that we can't fathom. 

 

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Adell, 21, said he worked on quieting the lower half of his body in his swing. He’s working on staying on top of the ball. He’s cut down the swing that led to a strikeout in nearly half of his at-bats.

This is encouraging. There are very real concerns regarding his hit tool but I'm eager to see his new swing this spring. He sorely needed to make some changes there with his setup.

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