December 3, 2009

Gone Fishing

In an effort to keep True Grich rolling along, I thought I would take some time to learn more about some of the top prospects within the Angels organization. Even though I’m familiar with a few prospect names, I don’t know a whole lot about those names.

So, I am now on a mission to learn as much as I can about some of them. First target: Mike Trout. I spent a couple days reading as much as I could about Trout (you might say I went "fishing") and here’s what I learned...

Trout was the 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Trout is from Millville High School in Millville, New Jersey. His father, Jeff Trout (who also attended Millville) played professional baseball for four years in the Minnesota Twins system, who drafted Jeff in the fifth round in 1983. Mike Trout played the outfield in high school (he also pitched) and continues to play the outfield for the Angels' minor league teams.

Trout was the only player to accept an invitation to the 2009 baseball draft, which was held in Secaucus, New Jersey and was the center of attention when drafted by the Angels. Bud Selig was quoted (on as saying this about Trout's trip to the draft, "I give him all the credit in the world. Anybody who has that type of confidence to come here, that individual is tremendous."

Per the Sporting News, Trout said the following after being drafted; "It's just a dream come true," said Trout, who sports the model boy-next door look quite easily. "I'm just happy to be an Angel and I'm looking forward to start playing."

When asked if he was nervous, Trout was quite candid: "I'm very nervous. What 18-year-old kid wouldn't be?" You have to like that about a kid, don’t you? He’s having fun and not trying to be “Joe Cool.”

Trout has been described by more than a few scouts as a "five tool" player – which means he can hit, hit for power, has great speed, has a good glove and a solid arm. He definitely has the skill set that’s been absent within the Angels minor league system. The Angels were in desperate need of some good outfielders to add to their depth chart. They also selected Randal Grichuk (one pick ahead of Trout), an outfielder from Rosenberg, Texas. Trout and Grichuk know each other from their time playing in National Tournaments. By the way, any baseball player that has "Grich" as part of their name, can't go wrong in my book.

In his last high school season Trout hit a whopping .531, with 18 homeruns (a New Jersey single season record), to go along with 45 RBI’s and 19 stolen bases. I know high school statistics don’t mean a whole heck of a lot, but those numbers are impressive, never-the-less.

For his high school career, Trout hit .461 with 31 homers and 121 RBI’s.. He also made good on 70 stolen bases in 78 attempts (89 %) and scored 151 runs.

Baseball America’s Nathan Rode wrote in the publication’s 2009 Draft Preview., "Trout has risen to the top of the high school draft class thanks to his premium blend of speed, athleticism and makeup. Scouts regard him as a legitimate center fielder and love the way he plays the game." Music to my ears, even if it is about a kid who’s only 18.

His high school baseball coach Roy Hallenbeck describes Trout (on as having "top of the lineup speed in a linebacker’s body." At 6’2 and 205 pounds (some reports list him at 6’1") he appears to be built a little bit like Bobby Grich, who was 6’2" and 190 pounds in his day. You have to love that.

According to pressofAtlanticCity, Trout was "born to play baseball." His room was "all decked out in Phillies stuff and (Derek) Jeter stuff." Hmm. I won't hold that against the kid, if you won't.

So, you might ask; how's he doing? Well, so far so good for Trout as an Angels minor leaguer. John Sickels of ranks Trout as the Angels top prospect.

Stephen C. Smith of ranks Trout fifth.

Wait there's more...

He was selected by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Arizona rookie league for 2009, where he finished second in the league with a .360 batting average. According to BA he was "one of the few high profile draft picks" to qualify for their top 20 list.

The Hardball Times also rated Trout as the best hitting prospect in the 2009 Arizona League. From their site: "Trout isn't a superstar waiting to happen, but he has a bit of power, has a bit of speed, and has a very advanced approach at the plate."

Angels Win interviewed Abe Flores, the Angels’ Director of Player Development and he believes Trout can be a real "impact player." Flores said in the AW piece, "He’s a plus-plus runner. A base-stealer. He’s physical." Flores believes Trout could very well end up being a center fielder.

It gets better and better.

Check out more accoladtes in Ben Watanabe's piece on In the Dirt (the online home for South Jersey Baseball News). Watanabe interviewd Eddie Bane, Angels Director of Scouting and had this to say: "Numerous times during a phone interview, Bane solemnly compared Trout’s rise to that of Nick Adenhart. Adenhart, a right-handed pitcher, made a meteoric rise through the Angels system before he died in a car accident earlier this year. His loss seems to still reverberate within the organization."

Watanabe also writes, "It’s telling, therefore, that the Angels use Trout in the same sentence as a young man they held in such high regard." High praise indeed.

In Trout’s first year as a professional baseball player he had a .925 OPS (in 164 AB’s). He only hit one homer in the Arizona Rookie League, but stole 13 bases in 15 attempts. He was then promoted to the Cedar Rapids (A Ball), where he hit .267 in only 15 AB’s. Perhaps he’ll make his way to Rancho Cucamonga next year. After all, Trout has already skipped a level. Normally players that move through the Angels system, would make a stop in Orem, Utah (to play for the Owls, an advanced rookie league), before advancing to Cedar Rapids. So, who knows? Perhaps those of us in So. Cal will get an early view of the Angels top prospect.

Are you excited yet? I know I am. Trout will turn 19 on August 7, 2010 and it looks like the sky’s the limit for this Angels farm hand. I don’t know if he will be invited to Spring Training, but if he is – I’ll be looking to see him in action. It may be several years before he makes his way to the major league level, but he’s certainly one to watch. He’s piqued my interest, that’s for sure.

Lastly, I can’t resist… I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but when you think about Angel outfielders who’s last names were a bit "fishy" (Tim Salmon, anyone?), you can’t help but smile and hope for similar careers.

Photo credit: Kirby Lee, Special to The Daily Journal

BallHype: hype it up!

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