Jo Adell covered the 38 miles from Orem to Smith's Ballpark faster than anyone in the Los Angeles Angels organization ever navigated that I-15 trek.
He made it in two years, even with a major detour around second base in Mesa, Ariz.
Ranked the No. 4 prospect in Major League Baseball, the 20-year-old outfielder has joined the Salt Lake Bees in an advancement that’s significant for his own career and for the Angels system. Adell would have arrived sooner, if not for the baserunning accident with the freakish combination of straining his left hamstring and spraining his right ankle in an Angels spring training game in March.
The recovery took more than two months, but he has responded well and kept his career trajectory on an upward swing. And now he's in Salt Lake City, presumably through the Labor Day end of the Pacific Coast League season.
“The whole organization's interested to see him perform here,” said Bees manager Lou Marson. “It's going to be a fun month.”
Leading off and playing right field, Adell went 3 for 11 at the plate with one double in his first three games for the Bees, who conclude this homestand Monday vs. New Orleans. Adell is in the Bees’ outfield spot that Brennon Lund, from Bingham High School and BYU, was staffing well before being injured in mid-July.
Outfielder Jo Adell's advancement through the Los Angeles Angels' system:
2017 – Batted .288 in 31 games with the rookie-league Arizona Angels; batted .376 in 18 games with rookie-league Orem.
2018 – Batted .326 in 25 games with Low-A Burlington; batted .290 in 57 games with High-A Inland Empire; batted .238 in 17 games with Double-A Mobile.
2019 – Batted .280 in six games with Inland Empire; batted .308 in 43 games with Mobile; batting .273 in three games (through Saturday) with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Adell’s journey through the Angels’ organization is not quite like that of Mike Trout, who skipped Orem and Salt Lake on his initial climb to Anaheim in 2011, then started the 2012 season with the Bees before becoming a big-league star.
Adell has appeared at all six minor league levels of the farm system, making the steady progress the Angels hoped when they made him the No. 10 overall pick in the 2017 draft out of high school in Louisville, Ky. As team executives promised him, “The moment you show you can handle a level, you move,” Adell reflected. “So that’s what happened. It’s pretty awesome to be with these guys.”
It might be the beard. Maybe it’s the deep voice. Adell comes across as remarkably mature for someone who turned 20 in April. That trait enables him to deal with everything that’s expected of him in a franchise that needs homegrown talent to start making an impact. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he looks like an athlete who could play any sport, and he’s in tune with the daily nature of baseball.
“I know my capabilities and what I can do on the field,” he said. “Now, am I going to do ’em every day? No. It’s really about bringing the best I can to the field, and everything will take care of itself.”
If that sounds like a standard answer, Adell responded to an earlier question about the road from Orem to Salt Lake City with an anecdote about texting with his host family from the Owlz days, and how the Utahns were happy to have him back in the state two years later.
The injury in spring training could have derailed Adell’s 2019 season. But he rehabilitated in Arizona, made a brief stop at Class-A Inland Empire in late May and thrived at Double-A Mobile, where he had played 17 games for Marson last summer.
“Two, three weeks not being on the field, that was the toughest part of rehab,” he said. “Once I got back on the field and started doing practice stuff, it got better from there.”
He batted .308 with eight home runs in 43 games at Mobile, where he had hit .238 last summer. Adell attributes the improvement to being in a more comfortable routine, compared to 2018, when Mobile was his third stop. He’ll likely settle in with the Bees for the remaining four weeks of the season.
And then, who knows? Adell could receive a September call-up to the Angels, and he may never return to the Bees. Or he could start the 2020 season in Salt Lake.
To be safe, fans should catch him here this month, joining those who were lucky to witness Trout in April 2012.
For however long he’s in Triple-A baseball, Adell just wants to maximize the experience. “The more I can learn, the better,” he said. “A lot of these guys have big-league time, and [I’ll] just soak up all the information I can.”