ALL-USA watch: Ballard's Jo Adell turning into a true Louisville slugger

(Timothy D. Easley/Special to the Louisville Courier-Journal).

ALL-USA watch: Ballard's Jo Adell turning into a true Louisville slugger

ALL-USA Watch

ALL-USA watch: Ballard's Jo Adell turning into a true Louisville slugger

Ballard (Louisville) center fielder Jordon “Jo” Adell swings a composite bat during high school games, but when he got a chance to hit with a wood bat last summer with the EvoShield Canes, he was loyal to his hometown.

“Playing with the Canes, part of our sponsorship is Louisville Slugger and we got a bunch of bats from them,” Adell said. “I found one and it worked for me all summer. Being a Louisville guy, you have to know better than to swing anything else. In high school, I try to use wood bats on practice days. I try to balance out with the metal. The wood doesn’t lie. It’s always the best training tool. Metal sometimes, you can hear ding, ding, ding and you don’t know if you’re really squaring up.”

These days, more often than not, the senior is squaring up. Going into a game Friday night, he’s hit 13 homers, including two memorable blasts.

Against Collins (Shelbyville, Ky.) on March 15, he was playing in a night game at home and the right-handed hitter knocked one out of right field, leading to a 9-0 victory.

“I got a curve ball on the outside,” Adell said. “There are some tennis courts behind right field at Ballard and I’m pretty confident I was close to clearing it beyond that fence because the ball got and it was on its rise when it left the park. I got a really good bat angle on it and was able to get some the backspin on it to make the ball carry. Then I hit one against Manual (Louisville), at Derby City (where Spalding University plays in Louisville), and I got a fastball middle in and I met it and it was hit really well. There’s a tree in left center and it was probably about 100 feet tall and I’m sure I cleared it. Those two, when it left the bat, it felt good. The cool thing it was both sides of the field. I’m definitely working both parts of the field.”

By the numbers: Adell is hitting .538 through 52 at-bats with 33 RBI, 13 homers and only four strikeouts. He’s walked 20 times, 10 of them intentionally and has stolen nine bases. Though he’s pitched frequently in the past, he’s only thrown a handful of innings this season.

“I would definitely say my biggest improvement is patience at the plate and comfort and knowing my stuff is good enough to get the job done, whatever the situation is,” Adell said. “I feel like I haven’t tried to be Superman. I have done a good job of staying true to what I am.”

Best games: On April 8, in a 7-1 defeat of Hickory, N.C., he went 2-for-3 with two homers and five RBI. On April 14, in a 6-2 defeat of Butler (Louisville), he went 3-for-4 with two homers and three RBI.

They said it: “The biggest stride I’ve seen him make is probably his mental approach to the game,” Ballard coach David Trager said. “His first three years, he was a very athletic player who may not have known how to use his tools toward the sport of baseball. He’s really taken a different approach to the game this year. In the offseason, he wasn’t just swinging off the tee, he was swinging off the tee to work on his swing. Once they start becoming their own coach, their own critic, the sky is the limit.”

Best at-bat: In a game two weeks ago against Hendersonville, Tenn., in Nashville, he pulled a shot down the line in left field that cleared the fence.  Trager said the ball was clearly in fair territory, hooking only after it got over the wall, but it was declared a foul ball. Trager went out to argue the call, to no avail. Two pitches later, Adell used an inside-out swing to send one out to right-center field.

“The center fielder took two steps and just watched the ball go out,” Trager said. “For (Adell) to be that aggressive and pull the ball and then come back to the opposite field gap, that stuck out to me. It was a wow moment to me. There are not a lot of hitters at the high-school level who can do those things.”

The future: He’s signed with Louisville, but is seen as a likely first-round draft choice.

“It’s a win-win both ways,” Adell said. “As the time gets closer, I am going to know what I have to do and I’ll be ready to make the next step. It’s great to have some options in hand.”

Did you know: He comes from an athletic family. His mother, Nicole, ran track in high school. His father, Scott, was an offensive lineman for North Carolina State who was drafted by the New Orleans Saints. Jo’s older sister, Jessica, is a sophomore at Louisville and plays on the softball team and runs track.

“I wasn’t always built the way I am now,” Jo said. “Growing up, I couldn’t always run. I was a little shorter, a little stockier, more of a third baseman or corner position guy. This was the time my sister was turning into that next level athlete that I was able to turn into later on. She was one heck of a center fielder. She could cover a lot of ground. That kind of motivated me on focusing on that next level athlete that I’m working toward and growing into. I’ve gone from being 5-6 to 6-3 and 210 pounds and watching my sister be a next-level athlete was motivating.”

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