Jo Adell, who was the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Player of the Year last season at Ballard (Louisville), hits all the boxes on the check list for a legitimate prospect.
He’s 6-3 and 208 pounds, runs the 60 in 6.19 seconds, can jump 41 inches, hits for power and can throw 94 mph. That’s why the Los Angeles Angels drafted him No. 10 overall last June.
There are a lot of “can’t miss prospects” who do, but Adell hasn’t disappointed, even though he’s had his share of injuries.
Last year, in his first pro season, a shoulder injury kept him out of playing center field, but as a designated hitter in 49 games for rookie-league Arizona and half-season Class A Orem, he hit .325 with five homers, 11 doubles, eight triples, 30 RBI, and eight stolen bases.
In the off-season, he stayed busy, holding a baseball camp at Ballard, taking an online communications class at the University of Louisville and sponsoring a Thanksgiving turkey drive in Louisville.
“He reached out to me and asked, ‘Can I come over to practice and hang out with the guys?’ ” Ballard coach David Trager said. “I’m ecstatic that he wanted to hang out. I didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he was full-on engaged, helping guys and bringing energy to the field. That really speaks volumes for what he’s all about.”
He also hooked up his team with Adidas cleats and uniforms.
“He surprised us with some turf shoes for the team and Adidas cleats,” Trager said. “We didn’t reach out to him for anything. A couple of weeks later, we receive a package and he had managed to send us two sets of brand-new uniforms and pants.”
This spring training, he flashed his raw power while playing with the parent club, deforming baseballs:
This season, he’s back in center field and hitting .321 with a .476 slugging percentage and 16 RBI in 56 at-bats for the Burlington Bees of the Midwest League, which is full-season Class A. On April 20, he drove in a career-high eight RBI in a win. On Tuesday, in his first game back after taking two weeks off to allow a thumb injury to heal, he had four hits, his second four-hit game of the season.
“The first couple of weeks up here, it was pretty brutal with the cold,” Adell said. “I wasn’t always swinging at pitches in my zone. Now, I’m looking for pitches in my zone that I can square up on.”
He only has one home run, a grand slam, but Adell is more concerned about becoming a complete hitter.
“I think the big thing for me is getting on base,” he said. “I know I’m not going to get a pitch to hit a home run off every game, so you have to figure out how to be effective. If I get a pitch that I can handle and make hard contact, that’s great. The key for me is getting to third base so I can score.”
He just turned 19 and is the youngest player on the team.
“I’m taking it game by game and buying into the process,” he said. “I need to learn the things I need to do to play at this level. Once (the Angels) are confident I can handle that, I might get promoted. They’ve told me, once you show you have it under control, we’re going to challenge every player.”
Trager said he’s not worried that Adell hasn’t hit many homers.
“It takes a little bit to learn how to develop a power swing in baseball, especially at that level. That’s something he’s always going to do. In high school, I remember one time where he slid into home and jammed his thumb. He told me he wasn’t sure if he could grip the bat. I just told him to go up there and see if they would walk him. He gets a two-strike count and you could see his bad thumb coming off the bat as he swings, but he somehow hit a home run. He told me the pitch was too good not to swing.”