A shortened season shouldn't keep top Angels prospect Jo Adell from making his major league debut this year.
General manager Billy Eppler said in a conference call Tuesday that the format of the upcoming training camp should allow prospects to progress in their development. The Angels will stage intrasquad games between minor and major leaguers, which will provide young players valuable repetitions against higher-caliber competition.
After the season starts, minor league players confined to working out at the team’s secondary site at Blair Field in Long Beach will continue to get work in simulated games. The intensity in that setting will not match a regular game, but Eppler believes it can get close.
“You’re trying to simulate as much of a game scenario as possible and you want to help your players get into that mindset,” Eppler said. “I think it works for both sides to up the intensity.”
The Angels’ outfield is crowded. Mike Trout will continue to star in center, and most often he'll be flanked by Justin Upton and Brian Goodwin. If someone needs rest, utility man David Fletcher can fill in and Michael Hermosillo can cover center field. Manager Joe Maddon also can rely on Taylor Ward, who unlike Adell is on the 40-man roster, to play some left field.
But Adell, 21, is the Angels’ most anticipated prospect since Trout sailed through the farm system. He could provide an edge in a shortened season. Adell, 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, is one of the most dynamic athletes in baseball. And hitting for power is a significant part of his game.
What he didn’t show the Angels before spring training was canceled in March was the ability to hit consistently against high-level pitching. He went seven for 25 and struck out 13 times in nine exhibition games. Adell battled that weakness last season after being promoted to triple-A. He had a .676 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and 43 strikeouts in 27 games in the Pacific Coast League.
It seemed in March that Adell’s chances of making the opening day roster were slim. Returning to triple-A to iron out his approach might have been the more prudent move.
After months of speculation, the minor league season officially was canceled Tuesday, so Adell won’t have the luxury of closing gaps in his development in a normal game setting. But the Angels hope the competitions they organize within their player pool provide Adell the opportunity to make strides.
“That’s what we’re hopeful for … There’s some upside to the intrasquad format,” Eppler said. "We’ll just have to keep getting him at-bats.There’s going to be talented pitchers over there for him to face and we’ll go from there.”
No Angels players have indicated a desire to opt out of the season because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. … Two-way player Shohei Ohtani, who hasn’t pitched in a game since September 2018, will be under close scrutiny when camp begins Friday, but the Angels do not expect him to be limited in either hitting or pitching. He will form part of the starting rotation when the season starts. … First-round pick Reid Detmers, who signed with the Angels on Sunday, will join the player pool this week.