The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
Angels outfielder Jo Adell couldn't have had a worse day

Los Angeles Angels top prospect Jo Adell made his much-anticipated major-league debut on August 4. Having been the first-round pick of the Angels in 2017, their fans have been anxious to see whether he could help Mike Trout make a dramatic turnaround in the Angels’ immediate future. Of course, it’s way too early to tell that after only a couple weeks of play, but Adell’s fourth major-league game against the Texas Rangers a week ago is one he and Angels fans would just as soon forget.


In the bottom of the fifth inning, Adell was playing right field for the Angels when the Rangers’ Nick Solak hit a fly ball to deep right. In reaching out to catch the ball, Adell let it bounce off his outreached glove, and the ball landed over the fence. At first, it was ruled a home run, but later the official scorer changed the ruling to a four-base error. An embarrassed Adell hung his head in disgust over the inadvertent play.


Fortunately for Adell, his misplay was not a factor in the final score, since the Rangers were leading 5-2 at the time and ultimately won the game, 7-3. To make matters worse, Adell contributed to the Angels’ lack of offense that day, as he struck out four times against three different Rangers pitchers.


This certainly wasn’t the type of performance everyone was expecting from the 21-year-old Adell.


Coming into the season, he was the third overall ranked MLB prospect by Baseball America, trailing only the Rays’ Wander Franco and the White Sox’s Luis Robert. He played at all three levels of the minors last season, after missing most of April and May due to hamstring and ankle injuries. In 76 games, he slashed .289/.359/.457, with 10 home runs and 36 RBIs.


However, Adell has had a rough major-league start. Through Saturday, he was hitting only .167 with no extra base hits. He has struck out in over half of his plate appearances this season.


His gaffe in the outfield was reminiscent of a similar play by Jose Canseco in 1993. He was playing left field for Texas when a fly ball he was chasing hit him on the head and bounced over the fence. In his case, the hit was ruled a home run, but Canseco’s detractors never let him forget his bumbling play. Even today, the play shows up frequently on the all-time blooper highlights.


Stew Thornley, long-time SABR member and official scorer for the Minnesota Twins, recalls another situation of a four-base error. Outfielder Jose Guillen let a fly ball drop behind him and batter Howie Kendricks circled the bases. Initially, Kendrick’s hit was ruled a home run, but then was overruled on appeal as an error, with the thinking Guillen should have made the catch.


There’s really nothing to be alarmed about with Adell just yet. It’s not that unusual for top prospects like Adell to struggle at the beginning of their first big league stint. Hall of Famer Willie Mays hit just .163 in his first dozen games for the New York Giants in 1951. The story goes that Mays asked to be sent back to the minors because he felt he wasn’t ready, but Giants manager Leo Durocher had the wisdom to stick with him. Mays wound up with a .274 average to go along with 20 home runs and 68 RBI. It was good enough to earn him Rookie of the Year honors.


As was the case for all the major-league players, Adell’s preparation for the season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. If for no other reason than that, the rookie deserves to get a break for his slow start.


Maybe Adell will wind up being another Mays. But one thing’s pretty sure. Years from now, he won’t be showing the highlights video (or in his case, low-lights) of his disastrous performance against the Rangers to his kids and grandkids.

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