- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2020

Angels manager Joe Maddon won’t be surprised if Jo Adell starts the upcoming season in the minors after a rough 38-game introduction to the big leagues in 2020.

He also won’t be surprised if the 21-year-old still turns into a superstar.

“Yeah, he needs more time in the minor leagues. No question,” Maddon said on Friday. “But I’m certain, given that opportunity, you’re going to see what you thought you were going to see in the first place.”

Adell was the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft, and the outfielder almost immediately became one of the sport’s top prospects with his combination of power, speed and athleticism. But his first stint in the big leagues was rough: He had just a .161 batting average in 124 at-bats and also struggled defensively.

Maddon said that once the problems started, “it started spinning very quickly, which happens to many guys who come up from the minors to the major leagues.”

The manager said Adell would benefit from a normal routine during the 2021 season and that the outfielder is still “ultra-talented.”

“To evaluate him based on 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 really well.”

Maddon talked about several topics on Friday during his hour-long Zoom call with reporters, including the need to improve the team’s pitching staff. He’s optimistic that two-way player Shohei Ohtani will be available on the mound after throwing just 1 2/3 innings last year following Tommy John surgery in 2019.

Maddon said even if Ohtani is healthy, more work needs to be done to improve a pitching staff that had a 5.09 ERA. It was a big reason the Angels finished a disappointing 26-34 during the coronavirus-shortened season.

“The pitching has not been good enough,” Maddon said. “We need to get the pitching to where it can be championship caliber. Where it can be playoff caliber. It’s hard to score that many runs on a nightly basis to be a 90-plus win team if you can’t go out there and win 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, etc.”

Maddon said he’s had almost daily phone conversations with new general manager Perry Minasian, and the two have discussed several options on the free agent market.

“I like the names and optimistic we can (improve),” Maddon said. “It should be plural, we probably do need more than one. So that’s been the brunt of the conversation.”


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