Joe Maddon arrived at Tempe Diablo Stadium this month with a bin of old files in tow.
The stacks of folders in his office date to his early days in the Angels organization. They contain reports on Joe Carter, Angels pitching and rehab coach Kernan Ronan, and longtime Angels scout Ric Wilson as well as old typed daily schedules and notes on the minor league players he coached in the early 1990s.
Atop one of the piles of pages Maddon flipped through Saturday morning rested a sheet bearing the words “I GOT LOUD” in a large block font.
Maddon coined the phrase when he was the Angels’ roving hitting instructor. He did not care about the number of hits players accrued. Maddon focused instead on the quality of contact they made. The harder, the better. The players who impressed Maddon received “I GOT LOUD” T-shirts.
Maddon does not make the T-shirts anymore. Asked which Angels player would be awarded one if he did, Maddon mentioned top prospect Jo Adell in a list of six.
“He got loud,” Maddon said of Adell’s most recent batting practice against Angels pitchers. “He’s gonna get loud for many years.”
Adell, 20, is the Angels’ most anticipated prospect since Mike Trout sailed through the farm system and arrived in the major leagues nearly nine years ago. Adell is in spring training with the Angels for the second time in his brief career. He could well play in the majors this season.
But Adell, a 6-foot-3 and 215-pound dynamic athlete, must prove to team officials that he is capable of more than hitting a baseball squarely. The Angels saw his power when they drafted him 10th overall in 2017 from Ballard High in Louisville, Ky.. It was one of the five tools that garnered him a $4,376,800 signing bonus.
What they haven’t seen is consistency facing higher-level pitching. Adell hit .289 with 27 doubles and 10 home runs in 76 games last season and was one of the Angels’ most productive minor leaguers despite starting his season six weeks late because of ankle and hamstring injuries. But Adell struggled to adjust to triple-A opponents after a promotion in August, compiling a .676 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 27 games in the Pacific Coast League.
Adell made strides to improve his approach during the offseason. He had a standout showing in the Arizona Fall League and in the Premier 12 international tournament for Team USA.
Adell also improved his range in the corner outfield positions. His attention was directed to those spots after center fielder Trout, a three-time American League most valuable player, signed a 12-year, $426-million contract with the Angels last spring. To prepare for his second season patrolling the corners, Adell worked on his lateral movements.
“I’m more comfortable now than I was last year in the corners,” Adell said. “I feel pretty good about it. It’s all about being prepared, always being ready for a play and not taking any balls off, any plays off, because you can be involved at any point in time. That’s the big thing: Don’t get caught off guard.”
Whether Adell has made enough progress to legitimately compete for a spot on the opening-day roster remains to be seen. What is clear is Adell is not far off.
“I don’t want to define it,” general manager Billy Eppler said of Adell’s arrival in the majors. “I want to let it be organic and see how he is when he comes in the door.”
The Angels’ Cactus League openers at home and on the road were rained out Saturday. The postponement in Tempe was the Angels’ first since March 8, 2013. The game will be made up March 6. … The Angels will wear black and orange hats to honor Orange Coast College coach John Altobelli, one of nine people who died in the helicopter crash that also killed Kobe Bryant last month, in Tuesday’s home game. They were going to wear the hats, which are emblazoned with Altobelli’s No. 14 on the side, for the exhibition season opener. Rather than use them in Sunday’s home game, they will wait to wear them when Trout, Shohei Ohtani and other major league starters make their spring-training debuts Tuesday.