Friday, July 08, 2011

Mike Trout to Join Angels Tonight

The California Angels have announced that Mike Trout has been called up from AA Arkansas. This comes after starting CF Peter Borjous left last night's game with a right hamstring injury. Depending on who you ask, Trout is either the #1 prospect in baseball (Jonathan Mayo, me), or #2 behind Bryce Harper (Baseball America, just about everyone else).

The #25 pick in the 2009 draft out of Millville High School in Millville, NJ, Trout has hit .338/.423/.503 with 97 over 1148 plate appearances across four levels. This year, he has a .324/.415/.534 line in AA, with 12 doubles, 11 triples, 9 home runs and 28 steals - so I think it is fair to call his game "well rounded." Trout appears to be the rare type of dynamic player who combines patience, power AND speed. In addition to that, he plays fantastic defense, and has a great arm as well - he threw 90 as a high school pitcher.

So, what is the upside with Trout? Without exaggeration, it's elite, Hall of Fame level. Anything less than a multiple All-Star teams would be a disappointment. Trout is still only 19, yet there would be no one surprised if he is ready to contribute in a big way right now. With the Angels only a game behind the Rangers in the AL West, even a slight improvement in their outfield situation could make a major difference. Another story that bears watching - if Trout is ready, it may make Peter Bourjos expendable. Bourjos has matched quality defense with an offensive performance that's right about league average. Or, Trout could be moved to left field and start ahead of Vernon Wells. The thought of Bourjos and Trout together in the same outfield likely makes flyball pitchers Dan Haren and Jered Weaver positively giddy.

It's possible that we're getting ahead of ourselves here, of course. Trout doesn't turn 20 until August, and has never played in AAA. After Blake Beaven tonight, the Angels will see Michael Pineda tomorrow and Felix Hernandez tomorrow - not the type of pitchers one routinely faces in AA. (Wait, what was that? Michael Pineda WAS in AA most of last year? Anyway, my point still stands.) It's possible that Trout needs more seasoning and will return to the minors. That would likely be in AAA though, he has little left to prove in AA.

This isn't time to be pessimistic though, or even rational. Angels fans are encouraged to dream of Trout carrying them to the playoffs this year and being the superstar centerpiece to their franchise for the next two decades.

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