The Los Angeles Angels have called-up centerfielder Mike Trout from Double-A Arkansas to replace the injured Peter Bourjos. The nineteen-year-old phenom is poised to make his big league debut tonight when the Angels take on the Seattle Mariners.
Ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Angels organization and second (behind Bryce Harper) in baseball, Trout was in the middle of a season-long hot streak playing in the Texas League. As the league’s youngest regular, he’s posted an incredible .324/.415/.534 triple-slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG). Among the league’s leaders, he ranks (tied for) first in runs scored (69), he’s second in stolen bases (28)and in triples (11), fourth in batting average (.324) and he’s seventh in OPS (.950).
Though Angels fans have been clamoring to get a look of Trout in their outfield for quite some time, the club’s manager, Mike Scioscia hasn’t been so enthusiastic. About a month ago, Scioscia said it would be “a huge risk” to promote Trout early. In the interview with the Los Angeles Times, Scioscia said Trout “wasn’t anywhere near [a] finished product” and that “there were a lot of things he’ll benefit from in the minor leagues.”
Selected by the Angels 25th overall out of Millville (NJ) high school in the ’09 draft, Trout will be the first teenager since the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton to reach the big leagues.
With blazing wheels that rate as a perfect 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, Trout’s game begins–but doesn’t end– with his speed. He ran a jaw-dropping 6.38 second 60-yard dash in high school– a time almost three tenths of a second faster than MLB burners Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury ran. Similar in many respects to a young Johnny Damon, Trout is a disruptive force on the basepaths and he’s already stolen 97 bases in 250 career games. His running is by no means out of control and he’s been caught just 27 times in that span– giving him an %80 success rate.
With a career .338 batting average while playing professionally, it’s no secret that Trout is a weapon at the plate. He is a plus-plus hitter blessed tremendous hand-eye coordination and advanced pitch recognition. He’s a future .300 hitter in the big leagues and his plate discipline will allow him to keep his on-base percentage on the better side of .370 annually. He’s already tapping into his (at least) average raw power and his tremendous bat control and line-drive stroke should allow him to spray extra base hits all over the park. He’ll be a dynamic hitter and the second coming of Johnny Damon.
Armed with immense speed and body control, Trout uses his athleticism to play fantastic centerfield defense. He glides to both gaps and makes over-the-shoulder catches like an NFL wide receiver. He’s extremely sure handed and he’s made just 3 errors in 248 games playing centerfield. His average arm strength isn’t his best weapon, but his solid throwing mechanics afford him above-average accuracy on his throws– allowing him to total 14 (career) outfield assists.
Trout will be filling in for the injured Peter Bourjos for the remaining three games before the All-Star break. Depending on the severity of Bourjos’ injury as well as his own performance, he could certainly stay longer. In all likelihood however, when Bourjos returns, Trout will return to the minor leagues to hone his skills for the remainder of the season. Clearly though, the Angels won’t be able to keep the young star in the minors much longer.