Los Angeles Angels: Measuring Jo Adell’s potential 2020 impact

LA Angels (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
LA Angels (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Angels head into the 2020 season with a lot of hope of a turnaround, with Jo Adell being a big equation of that hopeful mindsight.

Just like every year, the Los Angeles Angels are starting over fresh in 2020 and are hopeful that the additions that the team made in the offseason will be enough to contend for a playoff spot after winning just 72 games last season.

The team did not make any huge additions to the starting rotation, just adding Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, but signed the biggest position player in free agency in Anthony Rendon after missing out on Gerrit Cole.

The team is also hoping to get a significant impact from Shohei Ohtani, who was a big producer for the team last season at the plate but did not pitch. Ohtani has not pitched since September 2018.

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There is also the same hope that the team has every single season and that is that certain players will produce up to their potential and better than they did the year before. Justin Upton is a big example of this but it is also important that Anderlton Simmons returns close to his best offensive self and that Tommy La Stella repeats what he did in the first half last season.

Finally, the last thing that the Angels have entrusted hope into heading into the 2020 season is their top prospect, outfielder Jo Adell. Adell, the sixth-ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline heading into the 2020 season, turns 21 in April and is just about big-league ready.

It does not appear that Adell will be on the Opening Day roster but with Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Brian Goodwin being the starting outfield, it appears as if the door will open for Adell to make an impact early this season.

All it takes is an injury to either Upton or Goodwin, which is certainly possible, especially in Upton’s case, for Adell to get his chance and win a big-league job.

That raises the question: what kind of impact on the 2020 Los Angeles Angels should we expect Joe Adell to make?

The answer: Not as much as you would think.

I hate to be the one to rain on the Jo Adell parade but I think he is a year away from being a legitimate everyday player and contributor on the Los Angeles Angels. Will he make an appearance on the Angels this season? I am sure he will, but he will not be a consistent starter until September to prepare for next season.

First and foremost, in the case of Upton, the Angels spent a lot of money on him and are not going to simply sit him for Adell if both are healthy. Adell definitely can fill in on the roster for an injured Upton but once Upton returns he is undoubtedly going to get that starting job back.

The Angels are not paying Upton $72 million over the next three seasons to lose his starting job in 2020. It is way too early for the team to give up on Upton, even if he does end up being bad in 2020.

He could occasionally DH, sure, but he is not going to win that full-time job with both Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani on the roster.

Okay, what about Goodwin? Well, it would also take a pretty big drop-off for Goodwin to play bad enough to lose his starting job to Adell. Goodwin was sneaky decent last season, hitting .262 with 17 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .796 OPS.

More importantly, for Goodwin’s sake, he does not struggle against southpaws as a left-handed hitter. Goodwin hit .261 against right-handed pitching and .263 against left-handed pitching last season.

Could Goodwin regress? Absolutely. Is he going to regress enough to lose his starting job to a 20-year-old early in the season? Probably not.

Plus, even if someone does get hurt and Adell is brought up to the big leagues, the next in line for a temporary starting job should be Michael Hermosillo. Hermosillo has spent time with the big-league club in each of the last two seasons and is playing great in spring thus far, hitting .471 with two homers in 17 at-bats.

It is way too small of a sample size to get super excited, but he is playing his way into being the team’s fourth outfielder. So when someone gets hurt, even if Adell is brought up, he probably won’t start every day.

It also is a bit unrealistic to expect Adell to come up and thrive right away, as that rarely happens for 20-year-olds. All of the greats struggle out the gate: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did as did MLBs number two prospect Gavin Lux last year in September.

It is hard to come up to the MLB at 20 years old and thrive right away to win a starting job. Plus, it is not like Adell is coming off a phenomenal 2019 as he was injured, did not get a full season’s worth of work and hit a combined .289 in 76 games. That screams one year away.

Plus, if everyone is healthy, it makes more sense for Adell to get consistent reps at the AAA level to continue to grow at the plate rather than be a spot-starter with the big-league club.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Adell doesn’t even lose his rookie status in 2020 and instead is a frontrunner for the 2021 American League Rookie of the Year.

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So unless both Upton and Goodwin are injured at the same time, for a significant amount of time, then chances are we are one year from Jo Adell having a huge impact on the Los Angeles Angels. Think Mike Trout in 2011.