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July 8, 2011

Future Shock

Trout's Surprise Callup

by Kevin Goldstein

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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.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

23 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


Awesome Stuff Kevin. Can't wait to see his debit and hear you and Jason discuss this on the podcast next week.

Keep your beer chilled this weekend!

Jul 08, 2011 11:23 AM
rating: 0

I'm lucky enough to be in Long Beach this week for SABR's annual convention. The group had already bought a large block of tickets for Saturday night's Angels game, so this just got a whole lot better!

Jul 08, 2011 11:29 AM
rating: 0

If Trout plays as well of a CF than Bourjos, then they have 2 gold glove CFs? I haven't seen a better defensive CF than Bourjos in the AL this year, including Franklin GutiƩrrez.

Jul 08, 2011 12:08 PM
rating: 0

What odds would you have placed on Trout playing a major league game prior to Harper at the beginning of the season? 10-1?

Jul 08, 2011 13:13 PM
rating: 0

I would have taken that bet in a heartbeat.

Jul 08, 2011 14:32 PM
rating: 2
BP staff member Kevin Goldstein
BP staff

Yeah, me too. My money was on Trout first at the begging of the year, but I didn't think we'd see either this year.

Jul 08, 2011 22:19 PM

If there's a very close debate over who's the No. 1 prospect in the minors, and Trout started the year ahead of Harper in terms of experience and level, there's no way 10-1 was close. I would have made it 50-50 or Trout a very slight fave.

Jul 09, 2011 02:05 AM
rating: 1

As always, great stuff Kevin. Thanks for the update.

Jul 08, 2011 13:46 PM
rating: 0

If trout hits and trout stays, we give him ROY on principle, right? He's a teenager in the big leagues.

Jul 08, 2011 13:47 PM
rating: -2

No comments about service time issues and how much it costs the Angels as opposed to waiting until, say, next June, which was much more expected?

Jul 08, 2011 14:57 PM
rating: 0

Timber, the Angels don't seem to be lacking in cash and wells' contract will be off the books by then anyway. They don't seem to have too much trouble attracting/retaining players either. Service time is more of an issue for my Blue Jays, the Royals, Twins, Pirates, etc (aka non tropical+top baseball markets).

Jul 08, 2011 15:47 PM
rating: 0

Season projections? I'll take the first shot:

260 plate appearances(a few slumps and a handful of days off)
22 steals, 4 times caught(and slows games to a crawl when he's on)
12 doubles
8 triples
6 dingers

Jul 08, 2011 16:14 PM
rating: 0

With those outcomes he'll be slugging like .442, not .400... too many XBHs.

Jul 10, 2011 11:14 AM
rating: 0
Dave Holgado

Let's do some first game projections like we did with Teheran. Keeping with my tendency towards irrational exuberance, I'll say: 3-for-5, 2B, 3 R, 2 SB.

Jul 08, 2011 17:43 PM
rating: 0

Wow. Haha. I'll go with 1-4 with an infield single and two K's.

Jul 08, 2011 18:46 PM
rating: 0
Jason Wojciechowski

Is Trout truly as fast as Bourjos? I know everyone says Trout is fast, and I've seen him get down the first base line and run down balls in the gap, but Peter Bourjos is otherworldly, isn't he?

Jul 08, 2011 20:21 PM
rating: 0

Yes and yes

Jul 08, 2011 21:44 PM
rating: 0

For 1., Willits would have been the conventional choice if they didn't think Trout was ready.

I think how long Trout stays depends as much as on how bad Bourjos is hurt. I could easily see him up for a cup of Joe as I could see him through October, the main issue is Hunter, Abreu, and Wells aren't going any where.

I'm sure glad I didn't get a Futures Game ticket!

Jul 08, 2011 21:50 PM
rating: 0

Oh Vernon Wells, you should be (but probably won't be) continuing the fine Angels tradition of outrageously expensive 4th outfielders.

Jul 09, 2011 06:52 AM
rating: 0

Any opinion about who is better defensively in cf if you get things to a point, perhaps by next year, where you could fit both in the same outfield. I know that Trout is supposed to be very good defensively, but he would really have to go some to be better than Bourjos, who seems to be just spectacular out there.

Jul 10, 2011 16:09 PM
rating: 0

Most believe the best configuration is that Trout moves to left field, but Wells and Hunter aren't going anywhere, and Abreu's option for next year is about to vest so it's a bit crowded.

That doesn't even consider the possibility Kendrys Morales comes back and then having to find a spot for Trumbo's bat.

Jul 11, 2011 12:00 PM
rating: 0

I was at the Saturday night game, and I saw his first hit, a bunt that he EASILY beat out. He is quite possibly the fastest RH batter home to first in the game today.

Jul 10, 2011 23:03 PM
rating: 0
John Carter

It seems such a waste moving one of the best CFs in baseball, as Trout reportedly is, to leftfield. I would be less surprised, if they traded Bourjos or made him the 4th outfielder.

Jul 11, 2011 13:32 PM
rating: 0
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