In Their Own Words: One-On-One With 2017 Prospect Jordon Adell
Two-time Under Armour All-American, Jordon “Jo” Adell is savoring every moment of his senior season of high school at Ballard as he’s picked up where he left off last summer, leading his team to important early victories and hitting homers in the process (up to 13 as of this writing).
Last year at Wrigley Field, Adell put on a show both offensively and defensively during individual workouts, the Home Run Derby and into game play against other highly-touted prospects and it carried through the remainder of his summer and into 2017 where he has worked himself into the conversation as one of the most athletic and talented players in his class.
The next step for Jo is playing Division I baseball at the University of Louisville where he’ll join his sister Jessica creating a talented and experienced brother-sister sports duo. Currently a redshirt sophomore, Jessica initially played softball at the University of Tennessee before transferring and playing at Louisville. She’s now a member of the track & field team, throwing the javelin for the Cardinals. The athleticism of the family is no surprise to anyone as their father, Scott played football at North Carolina State and was later drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1992.
I recently spoke with the dynamic outfielder about his memories as a two-time All-American, how he came about loving the sport of baseball and how his Dad Scott has influenced his work ethic.
Matt Lund: I’ve seen a lot of ‘Jo’ Adell lately, on your twitter, in Baseball America articles… is ‘Jo’ just a nickname or what you normally go by?
Jo Adell: I go by Jo. I’ve been writing ‘Jo’… short for Jordon… it’s my nickname that I’ve had for awhile, really since I first started playing. We had two kids who were named “Jordan” when I first moved here and so, I just picked up the nickname, ‘Jo’, partly because a lot of people spell my name with an “an” instead of an “on” so I just made it easier for them and shortened it to “Jo”, kind of made it fun and short. It’s crazy it’s stayed around as long as it has. A lot of people don’t even know my name is Jordon, which is the crazy part.
ML: What part of your game are you working on now that you’re into your senior season?
JA: For me, it’s really staying patient. I’m being pitched around… it’s a little different, coming off the summer where guys came at you with the hard stuff. So, its staying ready for me. So far in six games (at the time of this interview in late March) I’ve probably had eight walks… and you just have to know that someone is going to make a mistake and you gotta be ready to attack. What I’ve been working on is a pitch you can handle… you’re obviously not going to get your pitch every game. If you get a pitch around the zone that you can square up, you gotta get it.
ML: You’re a two-way player – outfielder and a pitcher throwing low to mid 90s on the mound… are you still loving playing both or do you prefer to be a positional player?
JA: I definitely enjoy playing the OF more so… obviously, I can get back on the mound, it’s something I have done, but I think my speed, ability to cover the ground and my bat at the plate is something I enjoy, so I think I can bring more to the table as a hitter and playing in the OF.
ML: You’re supremely athletic – did you play any other sports growing up in Kentucky? Or have you moved around a lot?
JA: I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and lived in Durham, NC and ended up relocating to Richmond, VA for my Dad’s job and this was all before we really starting playing sports, so probably when I was 6 or 7 years old. Then we went from Richmond to Louisville when I was about 7 years old. My Dad wanted us to pick a sport and get involved and we didn’t know really at that time, so we just played whatever was in season; basketball, swimming, did gymnastics, played soccer, obviously T-Ball for about 3 or 4 years, and from there, I decided to play baseball. I just really enjoyed when the season came around… I stayed with basketball for the longest out of all other sports, but nothing compared to baseball season. And it didn’t matter what other people said about it. It was the fact that I enjoyed playing baseball and it was my decision.
ML: There has to be competitiveness in your house – Thoughts on you and your sister potentially being at Louisville together playing sports?
JA: It’s pretty exciting. Jessica came to Louisville, played on the softball team, but she realized, “you know what, I’m going to try and run track.” She’s one of those special type of athletes… her speed is extremely real, she can move in the OF and all that, but she just wanted to try something new. She’s throwing the javelin now… really enjoying that. The thought of the brother/sister combo together at the U of L is exciting.
ML: Your Dad played football at NC State as an Offensive lineman…was drafted in the 12th round of the ’92 Draft by the New Orleans Saints. What kind of insight has he given you to prepare you for either being a top guy at Louisville or being one of the top guys in this year’s Draft?
JA: This really came from when I decided to stick with baseball at a young age… it was one of those where you gotta want it as bad as you want to breathe, type of deal… You have to work at this, it’s a skill sport and I’ve known that from the beginning. But it was no days off in my mind… if you didn’t work out today, you should feel guilty about that. He definitely taught me what it means to work hard…. My mom is a principal, so she stayed on me with the academic part too, and explained to me how nothing comes before those academics. Baseball is one of those sports where no one is guaranteed a full ride. They both taught me that you really have to focus in the classroom if you want to get to do the things you want to do and play the sports you want to play. My Dad was a big motivator.. he would come into my room early in the morning, “you ready to go workout?” He would look at me and say, “so are you gonna go swing or you just gonna chill out”? so he’s definitely been a big influence on me.
ML: Now you told me that your Dad has only missed one game since you’ve played baseball and there’s a funny story about that particular game?
JA: Yeah, I was playing coach-pitch… one of my first games when we moved here to Louisville… when I was about 7 years old and I hit a home run and my Dad was on business, kind of while we re-located and he missed it… and it tore him apart. Ever since, my Dad hasn’t missed a game, he’s always been engaged and I have to hand it to him for that. I don’t think he’s missed a home run since.
ML: What are some of your favorite memories of playing in the All-America Game and being in the very small group of players who are two-time All-Americans?
JA: Going the first year was definitely eye-opening, it was an awesome experience. For me, I took it as a challenge, playing amongst guys that are a year older than you… and the best in the country, so I knew I had to bring my best that weekend. Everything I did, I wanted to play so that they didn’t recognize that I was younger. It was an awesome experience, to play at Wrigley, I wish was something I could do every year. The people I met, still in contact today, to see them on TV playing in college or minor league ball, is pretty awesome.
ML: You had some great in-game bats on top of your solid rounds of BP… and it seemed like you kind of turned it on to finish out the summer, after your time at Wrigley…. What adjustments have you made in that time period to get to where you are currently?
JA: For me, I am a pretty strong kid with fast hands, so my thing that I worked on, especially the rest of the summer was, “less is more.” I don’t have to generate a crazy load or a crazy leg kick or anything for my hands to move the way they need to or for my lower half to work the way it needs to work. All I had to do was get a simple step to move my hands through the zone and I felt like I was going to be fine. I trust my hands and hand speed and so those were my adjustments; to simplify. I knew the competition I was going to face during the summer, aware of the arms we were going to see so I knew that was an area I had to key in on and I think I’ve done that pretty well.
ML: You were in last year’s Home Run Derby before the All-America Game at Wrigley Field. You hit your own picture on the jumbrotron during one of your rounds – what did you think of that?
JA: It was actually pretty cool. It was a situation where I knew it happened, but I was so focused on the next swing, you know what I mean? You know how the Derby goes… try to get as many swings as you can, pace yourself… but I hit the ball and it felt really good off the bat and it just kept going. It was one of those balls that didn’t want to come down. I saw it hit out of my peripheral vision, and I thought, “man, that’s a shot right there.” It was pretty cool to talk about it with the guys after, for sure.
ML: Thinking back to your two years at Baseball Factory events, what are your takeaways of how our organization goes about helping young athletes?
JA: I think you guys do a great job of working the individual player. I think a lot of times at similar events like the Under Armour All-America Game and all these other showcases, it can be more like, “let’s just get this done and get them out”, and so I feel like what people take away from your events is that they get better each and every time they go. They learn new things and meet people and it’s just a great experience. I know that being able to go two years in a row to the All-America Game, I was treated like gold. Even being an underclassman, first year I went, if my socks didn’t fit right, they were there to switch them out. If the itinerary was confusing, there were a couple guys there to help out and walk me through it. Everything I needed, I had. And I know that’s how all Baseball Factory events are run and its very special. You guys do an amazing job.