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Jo Adell Diary

Jo Adell diary: Hitting my stride in Triple-A

‘The best way I can describe my three years of professional baseball is transition’

Jo Adell is chronicling his journey in baseball for The Undefeated. The Los Angeles Angels’ top prospect, who was injured during his first major league training camp, discusses life in the minors, what it’s like to be an African American baseball player in 2019, and much more.

In this installment, Adell details his time in Triple-A.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking past the casino that was connected to my hotel in Reno. Some of my teammates were excited to be there because a lot of entertainment, eating and gambling options were literally at our doorstep.

Me? I felt a little weird. When we checked in, I had to grab my bag and go to my room without even as much as a pause while walking past the floor of slot machines and card tables.

I’m 20 years old. I wasn’t old enough to be there.

That was my life in the Pacific Coast League, where I ended my season this week with the Salt Lake Bees, which is the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. My journey this season has taken me from spring training with the Los Angeles Angels to the California League (my rehab assignment after I got hurt) and back to Mobile, Alabama, where I played Double-A for the second straight season.

Every move is an adjustment. For me, it was an adjustment being the youngest active player in the PCL by the time I arrived. While there are a lot of young prospects in the league, you find a lot of guys with families, quite a few who have played in the majors and others who are major leaguers on rehab assignment.

For the most part, the guys in Salt Lake City were guys I knew having spent time with them in spring training or in Mobile.

In Triple-A, every person playing there has one single goal. You are only one step to where you want to be. There is only one agenda: Get to the big leagues.

Triple-A was challenging for me at the beginning. I struggled a bit when I first got there, which hadn’t happened since the time I was drafted in 2017.

It’s a different type of pitching. Not drastically different stuff, but there were two areas that set the pitching apart from what I’ve seen before.

First, it’s the way pitchers attacked me during at-bats. I saw a lot more off-speed at this level than I’d seen in the past.

Second, the strategy is different at this level, which results in seeing a lot more arms in the same game. In Double-A ball you might see two to three pitchers a night. Here, it’s common that you see four or five different arms over the course of a game, and it’s a process to get adjusted to so many different looks.

But, honestly, the problems offensively were within myself. I was just missing some pitches that I was trying to crush. There’s something that’s not going to feel right every game you play, and you just can’t let that flow over to the next day. Once I learned how the pitchers were attacking me, I began to get into a comfortable groove.

I was feeling that way during a road trip to Tacoma in late August when I hit a home run just over the wall in right-center. Talk about exciting! It was my first home run at Triple-A and I was on cloud nine, even though there weren’t a lot of people there to see it because of the rain.

My next at-bat I got a pitch high and outside and just used my power to go the other way. Two at-bats, two homers. My teammates had completely ignored me in the dugout after my first one, but it felt good to get some love from the guys after the second.

But Mother Nature came out to haunt me. The light rain turned into a downpour, which delayed the game. Eventually, the umpires called it in the fifth inning. So, officially, the home runs never happened. It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day, what can you do?

Even though it didn’t count, that game was a turning point for me. I just felt like I got better, and that was the game where I made a shift to becoming more comfortable. By the end of the Triple-A season — we played our last game on Monday — I began to feel as good as ever.

Maybe the best way I can describe my three years of professional baseball is transition. In addition to attending spring training with the Angels, I’ve played on six different teams since I was drafted. I’ve played at every level of the Angels organization.

The Angels want to challenge me. And it seems to me that for each occasion where I show I’m comfortable with one challenge, they move me and present me with another.

With the Triple-A season ending in Salt Lake City, the Angels are presenting me with my next challenge by assigning me to the Arizona Fall League. I’ll be playing with the Mesa Solar Sox, and I guess it’s fitting that my baseball season will continue in the place where it began, in Arizona.

Like everything that’s happened in my career, it’s going to be exciting. I’ll be playing alongside Brandon Marsh, Jahmai Jones and some of the other top prospects, and I’ll be reunited with guys that I’ve played a lot of games with over the years.

My season began with me getting hurt during spring training and, for a moment, thinking that the knee and ankle injuries that I suffered had ended my season.

My season, after I rehabbed, continued with me playing in the California League, a second stint in Double-A and my Triple-A debut.

As I said in my first diary, the process is all about adding chapters to my book of knowledge. There are a lot of chapters to come, and I’m looking forward to adding the Arizona League as my next chapter.

The grind continues.

Jerry Bembry is a senior writer at Andscape. His bucket list items include being serenaded by Lizz Wright and watching the Knicks play a MEANINGFUL NBA game in June.