Jo Adell is saying all the right things. He trusts the Angels' plan for him, which the outfielder said was promised by general manager Billy Eppler to be aggressive. And it has been; Adell -- selected 10th overall in 2017 -- played across three different levels in his first pro season, reaching Double-A at age 19. He is batting leadoff to make up for at-bats lost to hamstring and ankle injuries earlier this year. He's not concerned about the next step.
"All I can do is be where my feet are," he said.
Adell's play, though, is drowning out the proper and polite answer and making it quite clear that the top Angels prospect is ready for the next test in his Minor League career. He homered twice and drove in three runs to power Double-A Mobile to a 5-3 come-from-behind win over Tennessee on Friday night at Smokies Stadium. And he's hitting .371 with a 1.105 OPS in 26 games with the BayBears.
Video: BayBears' Adell homers again
Adell was most proud of playing left field, where he had spent only eight innings this year. But his bat carried the BayBears' offense for eight innings Friday. He led off the game with a blast to center field off right-hander Jeffrey Passantino, then singled in another run in the fifth. He smoked an opposite-field dinger off righty Michael Rucker down the right-field line in the eighth. The homer, Adell's sixth, tied the game at 3-3.
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Batting atop the order has been part of what has enabled the 20-year-old to grow as a hitter. Sure, he's there because he is MLB.com's No. 4 overall prospect and the Angels want to ensure he recoups the time lost from not playing for the first two months of the season. But it has had real effects on how he approaches hitting on a more basic level.
"It's helped me overall to just play the game and look at the situation," he said. "Take a walk when I can take one. Not everything has to be a homer. I can spray the ball around and get on base. Just looking at the game and seeing what it calls for."
Video: Mobile's Adell hits leadoff homer
That intellectual approach has bled into Adell's preparation. Last year, he did not have time to pin down a routine. He lasted 25 games in the Midwest League and 57 in the California League. By the time he arrived in Mobile, he was experiencing a new setup for the third time in four months. And he was a teenager. "Things got a little weird," he said.
It did not help that series can last as long as five or six games in the Southern League. He hit .238 in 63 at-bats.
2019 MiLB include
"It was tough," Adell said. "It was my first time playing at this level, and there was a lot going on. I had been moved three times. But all of that aside, I didn't hone in on their relievers, the guys who are coming in. How they attack me. How I got out on them last time. I think I've done a much better job of that this year."
That familiarity has been paired with a more dedicated routine. Adell does some light drill work during batting practice to get his body moving. He does some close-range work with a machine calibrated around 95 mph to get ready for in-game heat. It's simple, he said. It's compact. It's worked.
Mobile took the lead in the ninth on Bo Way's two-run homer, his fourth.
Four pitchers combined to blank the Smokies over the final seven innings. Isaac Mattson worked three hitless frames and Joe Gatto (4-3) yielded a hit and a walk with two punchouts in two innings. Adam Hofacket locked down his sixth save, despite giving up a hit and a walk in the ninth.