One of the great aspects of the NFL, NBA and even NHL draft is that the top draft picks are in attendance. It does add a lot to the broadcast and of course it’s cool to see these young kids come out and shake hands with the multi-million dollar commissioner who is praying to himself that the kid doesn’t become a screw up and embarrass the league.
When Major League Baseball took their June amateur draft to prime time back in 2009, I am guessing the long-term goal was to have the baseball draft become just as important as the NBA or NFL draft.
Well, Major League Baseball has a long way to go to reach the level of the other leagues’ drafts.
During the 2009 draft, which was held in New Jersey (MLB needs to change that), the only projected first-round pick to show up was Mike Trout. Trout was picked by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with the 25th pick, and while Stephen Strasburg got all the hype in that draft, it’s Trout who has turned himself into the best prospect in baseball.
After dominating the minor leagues, the Angels called up Trout for the final three games of their series against the Seattle Mariners. Trout went 1-for-9 with a walk over the weekend, so it wasn’t the picture-perfect start to his major league career he had hoped for.
Despite that, I thought Trout carried himself well during these three games. He didn’t look overmatched and saw around 3.5 pitchers per plate appearances. Even though he only got one hit, he certainly goes up to the plate with a plan, which is impressive for a 19-year-old kid.
I hope the Angels let it ride with Trout in center for the rest of the season. Peter Bourjos might be a solid defensive center fielder, he’s not a fourth of the offensive player Trout is and isn’t the long-term solution in center for the Angels.
Here are some other things you should know about Mike Trout:
College: None. Went to Millville High School in Millvile, New Jersey
Drafted: 25th pick of the first round of the 2009 June draft
Minor League Stats:
Keith Law Ranking and Analysis
Ranking: No. 1 out of 100 best prospects in baseball for 2011
If MLB ordered a do-over on the 2009 draft, Mike Trout, the 25th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels, would likely be the second overall selection after Stephen Strasburg, even ahead of some of the other top-shelf prospects who’ve come out of that draft. Trout was a young high school senior, turning 18 two months after graduation, and was the youngest position player to play all year in full-season leagues, destroying the Midwest League and then performing way above expectations in the Cal League. No qualifying player in low-A had an OBP within 20 points of Trout’s .454 figure for Cedar Rapids, and only three beat his .526 slugging percentage; his OBP in 50 games in high-A would rank 15th among qualifiers at that level as well.
Trout’s performance reflects his outstanding tools. He’s an 80 runner, not just fast underway but explosively quick out of the box. That speed, combined with good instincts, gives him good range in centerfield. At the plate, he’s an intelligent, disciplined hitter, with very good hand-eye coordination and a direct path to the ball. He has good leverage in his swing with a well-timed weight transfer to his front foot, and strong follow-through, so he should hit for above-average power as well as high batting averages. And Trout consistently gets the highest marks from the Angels for makeup, work ethic, and ability to take instruction.
It defies belief that the Angels fired Eddie Bane, the scouting director who made the Trout selection, just 16 months after the pick; they’ll enjoy the fruits of his labor for many years to come, as Trout should see the majors within the next two years, and has the potential to become one of the best players in the game by his mid-20s.
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