Los Angeles Angels' Jo Adell needs more time in minors, Joe Maddon says

Jo Adell, quite possibly the best prospect the Los Angeles Angels have had since Mike Trout, struggled as a rookie in 2020, batting .161 while showing clear struggles defensively.

And though Angels manager Joe Maddon considers it unfair to judge players based off such an unconventional season, he also said he believes Adell "needs more time in the minor leagues, no question."

"But I'm certain," Maddon added Friday, "if given that opportunity, you're gonna see what you thought you'd see in the first place. That was a tough moment for him last year, the way it started -- it didn't start out very well for him, and it started spinning really quickly, which happens to many guys who came up to the majors from the minor leagues. He needs a normal pattern next year to get himself rolling. But this guy is ultra-talented. He has a lot of great things going for him. He needs a normal year to get his feet back underneath him."

Adell, ESPN's 10th-highest-rated prospect before the season began, struck out 55 times and drew only seven walks during the 60-game season. His .478 OPS was the lowest among players with at least 130 plate appearances; his minus-3 outs above average put him within the bottom 20% of players at any position. But Adell is still only 21, and he entered the 2020 season -- one played amid the coronavirus pandemic, with no fans in the stands and no access to in-game video -- coming off a rough showing in Triple-A to end his 2019 season.

Maddon said Adell, who started 29 games in right field and four others in center, was "rushed" to the majors.

"To evaluate him based off just what you saw last year could be very dangerous, if you choose to go negative," Maddon said. "This guy -- great athlete, obviously. This guy -- really bright, great teammate, great work ethic and retains information extremely well. That's what I learned about him last year."

Under first-year general manager Perry Minasian, the Angels have engineered a couple of trades to bring in shortstop Jose Iglesias and closer Raisel Iglesias. But they still seek at least one frontline starting pitcher -- though Shohei Ohtani is expected to resume his two-way role in 2021 and thus return to the rotation -- and an established catcher. The presence of Adell and Brandon Marsh gives the Angels a bright future in the outfield, but Adell's 2020 struggles might prompt the team to add more depth there for the 2021 season.

Maddon stopped short of declaring that Adell would begin the upcoming season in the minor leagues, but said, "There's things he definitely has to work on, and he knows that himself. This guy's a really good self-evaluator, he's very accountable to himself, so let's just get him to camp, get him rocking and rolling and make our decisions at that time."