Spring Training Storylines: The Outfield

Spring Training games tell a very small part of the overall Spring Training story. While some players like Mike Trout are simply trying to get through it healthy others are fighting for jobs. There are storylines beyond the batting lines and how they play out determines the Angels roster and the fate of many players.

Today we’ll look at the storylines being played out on the grass. These are likely the most dramatic of the bunch.

Jo Adell: The once top 10 prospect in all of baseball has fizzled at the Major League level. Thanks to a desperate attempt by Billy Eppler to save his job in 2020, Jo’s service time started early and he is out of minor league options. He either makes the team or gets placed on waivers where some rebuilding team is likely to snag him. The fact the other 29 teams know this means his trade value is lower now than it has ever been so that’s not an option. It is make the squad or move on time.

While it feels like Adell has been given a ton of chances, the 24 year old has only amassed about one full year’s worth of games and plate appearances. He looked more confident at the plate than ever when he was recalled last year but carries a career .214/.259/.448 slash line and plenty of defensive miscues at the game’s highest level.

The Angels are likely to give Adell plenty of opportunities this Spring. Whether those are a legitimate attempt to have him shine and make the team or to try to squeeze some trade value from him is unknown. Conversely if he blows these opportunities, he is playing himself out of a job and making it more likely he clears waivers.

Mickey Moniak: Is also out of options. This likely sets up a one is in, one is out scenario between him and Adell. Last year Moniak played outstanding defense in center field while delivering offense 14% above the league average.

You’d think that would make it an easy call for the Angels, but the underlying metrics all scream Moniak was very fortunate at the plate last year. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was at the top of the MLB charts while his walk rate (a miniscule 2.8%) and strikeout rate (35%) were among the worst in the game. In short, he struck out a ton, didn’t walk much, and a highly unusual amount of balls put into play fell for hits. If you are looking to identify a regression candidate, look no further.

Does Moniak find some plate discipline to go along with his speed and glove? Last year he unveiled a new hitting stance and got off to a red hot start. Let’s see what he does this Spring.

Defense is likely going to swing this battle as for their MLB careers both have walked seldom (4.8% Adell, 4.1% Moniak) and struck out far too often (35.4% Adell, 36.5% Moniak). If that is the case, Moniak again has an edge based on recent history, but Jo is also a great athlete.

Taylor Ward: Ward suffered the type of scary injury you hate to see in baseball. He’s now coming back from multiple facial fractures and will face live pitching for the first time.

He’s saying all the right things but is he really mentally ready for 95 MPH tailing in? I sure hope so but there’s only one way to find out.

ward.png
ward.png

Mike Trout: Can he stay healthy? If Mike Trout was a free agent signing he’d be viewed a lot differently than he is as a lifelong Angel who was once the Golden Child. At his best he’s an inner circle Hall of Famer but it has been a good four years since we’ve seen the dynamic Mike Trout we know and love.

How many at bats does Trout get in the Cactus League? And how many of them are as designated hitter?

Aaron Hicks: A switch hitter who crushes lefties and can play all three outfield positions is a great piece to have on a team. If healthy, and that has been a big if in recent years, he’s instant depth and a great insurance policy in the event neither Adell or Moniak pans out or there’s an injury.

But Hicks is also making league minimum thanks to the fact the Yankees released him and are paying the bulk of his salary. If both Adell and Moniak seize their opportunities, Hicks could be the odd man out.

How much playing time will Hicks get, particularly compared to Adell and Moniak?

I’d peg Hicks’ odds of making the team at 75% minimum considering his versatility and pedigree. Which really adds drama to the Adell and Moniak storylines.

There will be a few other outfielders in camp such as Jordyn Adams. Another of Eppler’s raw athletes he hoped to turn into baseball players, Adams star as a prospect has dimmed considerably lately but any progress at all will be a welcome sight.

So as we begin Cactus League play on Saturday look for who is getting playing time and who isn’t. Who is making the most of that time and who isn’t. And hopefully this helps you understand the stakes for all involved a little bit better.

How do you see this all playing out?

36 Comments
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BushLeague
Member
4 months ago

Nice write up Jeff! I think if they keep the DH spot open, they’ll keep all 5 OF on the roster. There’s enough room to rotate everyone if the DH spot is available. There’s no reason to cut ties with Adell or Moniak if they see any potential in them.

BannedInLA
Super Member
4 months ago

So, every OF on the roster has a serious question mark or three. Got it.

This is the reason that Cody Bellinger’s name continues to percolate.

Fansince1971
Legend
4 months ago
Reply to  BannedInLA

Bellinger has big question marks too. And expensive ones.

BannedInLA
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

I’m not personally advocating for him, but it’s understandable why some people
are.

DMAGZ13
Trusted Member
4 months ago

There is 0 chance Adell gets through waivers.

RexFregosi
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  DMAGZ13

they may just do him a solid and release him now.

Odd he wasn’t with the rest of the club for the full position player work out in Diablo but it could mean nothing too.

Wash, like Scioscia, may just prefer veterans.

Roy Hobbs
Super Member
4 months ago

Really nice write up and summary Jeff, and well substantiated with key data. Makes me all the more interested in signing Bellinger and trading Mickey while his stock is up. I think if the Angels had their way, they would give Mickey, Adell, and Hicks a good look in ST and then sign Bellinger. Even if Mickey regresses, he still makes a very nice 4th OF though. You hate to give up on Adell, and Hicks is the only one of the 3 who hits left handers, which makes me think that without any additions, it’s Mickey or Adell who might get moved. An outfield of Bellinger, Trout, and Ward though is really good and you could package OFs and Drury for a young 2B or 3B. Lot’s of options.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago

Something to watch long-term: Harper is wanting the Phillies to extend his contract (With 8 years left).

How long do you think the Phillies can put him off before the inevitable, and probably very public, trade request?

Angelstan
Trusted Member
4 months ago

Urshela just signed for peanuts. The Dodgers paid way too much for Teoscar. Why aren’t the Angels taking advantage of these bargain basement prices? I thought that was the whole point. Wait until everyone is cheap.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  Angelstan

Who knows if Urshela or Hernandez was offered or rejected a contract with the Halos?

Paris supposed to be a little closer to playing in the show, if things get bad, we will see him in Anaheim.

Last edited 4 months ago by Angelz4ever
Cowboy26
Legend
4 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

I think his defense is there and I’m sure they could coach up his base running as well. But him learning how to hit ML pitching? That may still be aways off.

Angelstan
Trusted Member
4 months ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Right. And Paris is a SS/2B guy. He isn’t a 3B/1B like Urshela.

I agree Paris hitting is a big open question.

red floyd
Legend
4 months ago
Reply to  Angelstan

But ‘Gifo can cover 3B, and the Muffin Man can cover 1B.

JackFrost
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  Angelstan

Big F up by Perry. No question.

Gio is really a very solid and valuable player. He probably wanted to stay here too.

This is upsetting to say the least.

FungoAle
Legend
4 months ago

If Ward fails, it will be because he is, maybe not that good. I’ve seen worse beaning’s in the facial area and hitters bounce back after seeing live pitching for a few games. Unless it is your eye.

Keep Adell.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  FungoAle

Ward is the real deal and was getting warmed up before he took that jaw ball. He is an established ML player. He is young and should bounce back. I look forward to seeing him do so.

RexFregosi
Super Member
4 months ago

It will be interesting to see what happens to Marisnick. Willie Calhoun is also listed as OF in camp. They seemed destined for SLC

Rada is a very chill dude, i can see him one day making a big impact.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  RexFregosi

I really respect Marisnick for the aftermath of him running through Lucroy a few years back. I believe he got plunked later (Maybe next game) and he told his bench chirpers to STFU when he took first base.

Last edited 4 months ago by Angelz4ever
Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

He also reportedly called Lucroy in the clubhouse or at the hospital. It was hardnosed baseball and Lucroy was in his path. I both gave and received a lot of love at the dish on those type of plays. However, I do support the new rules.

red floyd
Legend
4 months ago
Reply to  Angelz4ever

That’s why we wear the tools of ignorance.

Only knocked down once… ruled an automatic out under the league’s rules, but I still held onto the ball.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  red floyd

I got plowed a few times, but mercifully never on dream street or concussed. I got cleated on top of my right hand (Still scarred to this day) and cleated in the thigh twice. Bruised innumerably.

Last edited 4 months ago by Angelz4ever
halofansince1978
Super Member
4 months ago

Thank You Jeff…keep up the good work!!

Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago

Yes, TYVM Jeff!

RexFregosi
Super Member
4 months ago

Right now, what is see going on with drills, and who is grouped with who, Jo Adell is clearly #5 on the depth chart. But it is Feb 22nd so plenty of time.

MarineLayer
Super Member
4 months ago

I would prefer HIcks being the odd man out, especially if the Angels don’t make some high impact signings before the start of the season. We might as well see what we’ve got with Moniak and Adell.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

I am not a prognast….pragnosti……predicter, but I believe Ward may start the season on the IL. That would enable him to stay in MiLB camp and get more low pressure ABs. Ironically, he would probably be more likely to get beaned by a MiLB pitcher learning control.

Last edited 4 months ago by Angelz4ever
Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Joiner

Adell or Moniak will never make it through waivers.

Last edited 4 months ago by Angelz4ever
BannedInLA
Super Member
4 months ago
Reply to  MarineLayer

I’m sure the Angels prefer this outcome as well.

Hicks is the ol’ “in case of emergency, break glass” option. If Adell & Moniak play well, the Angels can jettison Hicks at minor cost.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
4 months ago

First post…..just not the smartest.