Prospect of the Day: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles AngelsJust over two years after being drafted, Angels phenom Mike Trout arrived in the major leagues. What explains his meteoritic rise, and what does the future hold?
Trout was drafted in the first round in 2009 from high school in Millville, New Jersey. The 25th overall pick in the draft, he was the only player who appeared at the MLB Network studios on draft day. Scouts considered him highly-promising due to his combination of speed and power, but his cold-weather background made some wonder about his level of polish and need for experience against better competition.
He showed few flaws in rookie ball, hitting .360/.418/.506 in 39 games with 13 steals in 15 attempts, showing outstanding instincts and more polish than anticipate. He began 2010 with Low-A Cedar Rapids and was extraordinarily successful, hitting .362/.454/.526 with 46 walks and 45 stolen bases in 81 games. This earned him a promotion to High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he hit .306/.388/.434 with 11 steals against more difficult competition.
Promoted to Double-A Arkansas this year, Trout was hitting .324/.415/.534 before his promotion, with 38 walks, 61 strikeouts in 290 at-bats, and 28 steals in 36 attempts. These are outstanding numbers, and he's just 19 years old. Overall, Trout hit .338/.423/.503 in his minor league career, with 97 steals in 122 attempts.
A 6-1, 200 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, Trout has 80-level running speed on the traditional 20-80 scale. He uses this well on the bases and in center field. He has good instincts as a baserunner and reads pitchers well. On defense, his speed translates into very strong outfield range. His throwing arm is average but accurate.
On offense, Trout has plenty of bat speed and a good eye at the plate. He shows few weaknesses, handling both fastballs and breaking balls well. There is a bit uncertainty about his future home run power. His pop was to the gaps early in his professional career, but he's been driving more homers as he moves up. All told, he will hit for both average and power, say .300 with 15-20 homers, plenty of doubles and triples, a good on-base percentage, and 30+ steals. Combine that with excellent defense and great makeup and you have an All-Star.
Trout has just a half-year of Double-A under his belt and no Triple-A at all. This increases the risk that he may have some adjustment problems, so while his upside is undeniable, don't be surprised if there are growing pains. I wouldn't anticipate that .300, 15 homer, 30-steal output immediately in other words. If he hit .220 the rest of the way, that would still be very impressive for a guy who doesn't turn 20 until August. Whatever happens in the short run, Trout is an amazingly good prospect and the best hitting prospect in the game not named Harper.