The Angels’ best prospect since Mike Trout is one step away from the big leagues, but fans may want to be patient for his arrival.
The Angels’ best prospect since Mike Trout made the jump to Triple-A just over two weeks ago. Young outfielder Jo Adell now sits one level below the majors but is on the verge of beginning his major league career. While many Angels fans are calling for Adell’s major-league debut this season, there are several reasons why the club would be wise to consider waiting until early next season for his MLB debut.
Jo Adell is 20 years old, and easy comparisons can be made to Mike Trout, who was called up at the age of 19. Trout had accumulated over 1,200 plate appearances during his two-plus seasons in the Angels farm system.
As of mid-August, Adell has just over 900 professional plate appearances since being drafted by Angels in the first round of the 2017 draft. Adell’s start to his 2019 campaign was delayed after he spent the first few months of this season on the injured list after suffering an ankle injury at the end of Spring Training.
While Adell is performing well at the Double- and Triple-A levels this season, it’s critically important that the Angels do not rush this talented outfielder to the majors.
Many are making the argument for getting him exposed to a major-league clubhouse or giving Adell a chance to face live major league pitchers this September after rosters expand to 40 in September, but it would be smarter to send Adell to the Arizona Fall League in mid-September and give him at-bats against some of his fellow top prospects mid-September through late-October. Playing in the Fall League would extend his plate appearances and help him make up for some of those valuable developmental at-bats missed earlier this season.
Major League Baseball rosters expand to up to 40 players on September 1. This can provide temptation to get a prospect like Jo Adell’s feet wet at the big-league level. The Angels are better off leaving Adell off their 40-man roster this September simply to give other players a look instead.
Assuming they do not experience unforeseen injuries, the Halos’ outfield is currently comprised of Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Kole Calhoun, and Brian Goodwin. Additional outfield depth can be found currently on the Angels’ roster in the likes of David Fletcher, and soon in the likely September promotions of Jared Walsh, Taylor Ward, and Michael Hermosillo.
The Angels would be wise to give any spare at-bats from current starting outfielders and give them to the likes of Ward, Hermosillo, and Walsh rather than Adell in September. These players could be valuable in future roles with the Angels in 2020 or be utilized as trade assets in the off-season.
Either way, the Angels are better off giving those players at-bats this off-season.
The assured depth of Trout, Upton, Goodwin and possibly Calhoun (if they decide to pick up his option for 2020) provides the Angels another valuable option going into Opening Day next season.
They can start Adell at Triple-A for the opening weeks of the regular season and delay his service time totals from beginning to accumulate. In turn, this could provide the Angels an extra year of control of Adell. We’ve seen this done in recent years with the likes of Kris Bryant and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
MLB currently defines one year of service time as 183 days on an MLB roster. By delaying the promotion of Adell to late April 2020, the Angels will have control of Adell for the rest of next season plus the following six full seasons — that leaves just under seven full seasons of Adell simply by trading a few extra weeks of Triple-A development while the Angels employ Trout, Upton, and Goodwin or Calhoun to open the season as the starting outfield.
Maximize the Trout–Adell Era
Setting the Angels up for 2020 through 2026 with both Mike Trout and Jo Adell in the same outfield and line-up is the greatest reason the Angels should delay his call-up. That extra year of service time could be crucial in Los Angeles’ new dynamic outfield combo. Adell recently changed his representation to the Scott Boras Group. Boras is a strong proponent of suggesting his clients wait to test the free agent market. Angels fans don’t want to consider Jo Adell a six-year rental before he’s even made his MLB debut. However, the truth is that there is no assurance the Angels will get Jo Adell longer than the original team-controlled contract period.
If Adell proves to be the All-Star we have seen developing in the minor leagues, the combination of Trout and Adell in the outfield for seven years is scary to AL West rivals. Trout has eleven more seasons remaining in his lifetime contract with the Angels. The tandem of Adell and Trout will provide the Angels’ two-time MVP (for now) a younger five-tool counterpart for the bulk of his extension.
Trout and Adell will benefit greatly from one another during the prime years of Trout’s career. Not only will those two be assured time together for that seven-year period but they have Ohtani, Simmons, and Upton as well for at least the early seasons of the Adell-Trout era. Now you have found something special in Anaheim for a franchise in need of a serious spark in the coming decade.
Success of the Franchise
Mike Trout has given the Angels’ franchise the chance to witness one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Still, they have only made the postseason just once during Trout’s career and have not won a single playoff game during his career. Jo Adell’s addition to the projected late-April line-up (which includes Trout, Ohtani, Simmons, Fletcher, Upton, and the potential of fellow prospects Matt Thaiss, Taylor Ward and Luis Rengifo) give the Angels a lot of talent to build around.
Speculation has it that they will make a run for a top free agent pitcher this off-season, with SoCal native Gerrit Cole highlighting that list. If they add one or two new starting pitchers, Ohtani makes a healthy return to the mound alongside Griffin Canning, Andrew Heaney, and others the Angels seem destined to make a run to many a post-season in the next seven years.
Angels fans, front office, and management — please be patient with the timetable of Jo Adell. Let us not lose focus on the potential he will bring this club for the next seven or more seasons.