September 19, 2010

Mike Trout is a big fish in any pond

Mike Trout did everything he could to try and lead the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes to a game 3 victory in the California League Championship game against the San Jose Giants Saturday night. His performance was reminiscent of Rickey Henderson in that he dominated the game from the lead off position (and not because he refers to himself in the third person - which he doesn't).

Trout got things going early with a lead off homerun in the bottom of the first to give the Quakes a 1-0 lead. It happened so fast that Cheryl and I just looked at each other and smiled. When all was said and done he was 4 for 5, with 2 homeruns, 3 RBI, and 4 runs scored. He even walked once for good measure. It was quite an impressive performance.

It was the kind of game that would have made Keith Law proud. Law who writes for ESPN has said that Trout is probably the best prospect still playing in the minor leagues. Look for Trout to be on top of Law's 2011 prospect list. Given Trout’s game last night, it would be had to argue with that ranking. (Trout gets into his homerun trout in the photo on the right).

I know it was just one game, but it was still a heck of a game; especially given that it was in a championship series. The sad thing is that only 2,376 fans were on hand to witness it. Even sadder was the fact that the Giants won this contest 12-7 to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

It’s hard to believe Trout (who wears #23) just turned 19 on August 7; especially when you compare him to the Giants’ own #23 Brandon Crawford who is 23. Crawford had some heroics of his own with a grand slam in the 11th inning that capped off a 5 run inning.

It’s hard not to get excited about Trout and even though we all know performances at any of the minor league levels doesn’t necessarily translate into big league success – the idea that Trout could be on the big club in a couple years seems real. He doesn’t carry himself like a typical 19 year old. It seems like he’s been here before. He's not wide eyed and instead is very matter-of-fact in his approach.

The game almost seems routine to him. Every time he trots out to the field he touches third base and does the same when running back into the dugout. He’s “old school” with the high socks and he’s just the kind of player you can't help but love.

I’m not sure what was more impressive; his two homeruns or what he was able to accomplish in the bottom of the 9th. With his team trailing by three and two men on, Trout singled to drive in a run, advanced to third on a throwing error, while another run scored to bring the Quakes to within one.

He then scored on a suicide squeeze play (yes, they play Angels baseball at every level) for what was his fourth run scored (he scored 4 of the 7 Quakes runs). This photo on the right illustrates just how fast he is... he's a blurr. You blink and he's gone. Okay maybe I'm fudging the truth just a tad here.

In any case, even his walk in the bottom of the 11th inning showed poise. Some players may have tried to do too much in that situation, but not Trout.

Side note - I’m writing this Sunday night and you should know the Quakes tied up the series this evening with a 4-0 win (I wasn’t there) and will play in Rancho Cucamonga for the Cal League Championship tomorrow (Monday) night; winner take all. The True Grich crew (Cheryl and I) just might be there... Trout was 2 for 4 with an RBI and run scored.

That may have very well have been his last game in Rancho Cucamonga and the next time Angel fans see him may very well be in Anaheim with the big club. Even if he's back at single A next year, it still might have been his last game as a Quake. There have also been reports that the Quakes may become the Dodgers affiliate next year. I guess the Quakes want to live up to their name, shake things up and have some chaos. Just saying…

I know what you're thinking "Crazy J" and I'd throw my hands up in the air if that happened as well (that's him on the left, in case you couldn't figure it out) .

By the way, Trout is now on the True Grich payroll. That’s right; the photo you see below is of me putting some cash into the hat for the first homerun he hit Saturday night. Seriously, the boosters have this tradition of passing the hat in an effort to collect a little extra money for the players when they hit homeruns.

Hey, it's a long way from the major leagues and every dollar counts.

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