July 8, 2011
Trout's Surprise Callup
Mike Trout, OF, Angels (Double-A Arkansas): 0-for-5, K.
Now that's not the kind of line that gets anyone listed on the update, but everything changed late last night when the Angels announced that Mike Trout is coming to the big leagues to replace Peter Bourjos, who injured his hamstring in Thursday night's win over Seattle.
I found out about the promotion at 6:30 am when some construction workers arrived in front of my house to rip up some pavement with a jackhammer. I was so surprised by it, that after getting more sleep, I awoke knowing I had to write something up, but first I had to double-check to make sure it wasn't something that had come to me in a dream. This happens more often that I'd like to admit, including a recent dream about a Jose Reyes trade to Cleveland that I awoke from with a sense of disbelief and a desire to log on to Twitter to see the reaction.
I'm filled with various thoughts on this but with little time or room for narrative, so here there are.
1. Is he up to stay? Like most MLB debuts, even those by future impact players, this had been created by necessity as opposed to solely minor league performance. When an outfielder goes down, the Angels get desperate, as we've seen by Howie Kendrick, Alexi Amarista, and even Mark Trumbo getting playing time in a corner. Once Bourjos went down, the team needed a center fielder to avoid shoehorning someone else into a corner, and the man holding the job down at Triple-A Salt Lake is Tyson Auer, who is hitting .279/.309/.370 in a hitter's paradise. He might have gotten the call if the Angels were not firmly entrenched in a battle in the American League West, so give the Angels credit for tossing any concerns about service time to the wind in order to compete for a playoff spot. The more interesting question is what happens when Bourjos's hamstring is healthy? Or more accurately, what do the Angels do if Trout is hitting .300/.360/.450 at the time and giving them an electrifying option at the top of the order? If Trout can help them win now, Trout can still do so with Bourjos available. In fact, Bourjos' season line of .272/.323/.397 represents a low bar for him to topple in order to become the everyday center fielder in Anaheim.
2. Trout is ready on a baseball skill level. Find a weakness in his game; I dare you. He's hitting .324/.415/.534 in the Texas League and does not turn 20 until next month. Yes, the Texas League is a hitter's circuit, but Arkansas is not one of the hot parks, and he's actually hitting much better on the road this season. Platoon problems? Well, he is a little bit worse against right-handed pitchers, to the tune of .307/.408/.533. On top of those numbers, though, his approach is outstanding, and the Angels don't lose an ounce of defense with him in center, nor an ounce of speed, and Trout is a better base stealer than Bourjos, having been successful on 28 of 36 attempts.
3. Trout is ready on a between-the-ears level, which at his age is as rare as having the skills to play in the big leagues. Ever since Trout signed quickly and reported to the Angels Arizona complex in the summer of 2009, reviews of his makeup have been as ebullient as those for his play on the field. Whatever cliché you want to use here applies. He's one of those first to the park, last to leave kind of kids who works hard, plays with constant energy, and does so ith a smile on his face the entire time. As good a player as he is, he seems to be that good a kid as well, and I realize that makeup is a vague term that is hard to properly define, but that does not mean it doesn't matter.
4. Thanks to the Angels for almost screwing up a really cool article I'm working on for both ESPN and Baseball Prospectus. I've polled several people in the industry, from scouts to executives about Trout vs. Harper. Results, as expected, are mixed, and despite the callup, the piece is still good and you'll see it before the Futures Game.
5. Prediction: Trout hits, Trout stays, and because of that the Angels stick with the Rangers in a highly competitive American League West race that goes to the wire.