By now, I’m sure everyone has heard the big news: top prospect Mike Trout has been promoted to the majors. He’s filling in now that center fielder Peter Bourjos has strained a hamstring and is expected to be out through the All-Star Break (and who knows for how much longer). In a season where we’ve already seen a wide range of top-rated prospects get promoted to the majors — Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda, etc. — this promotion takes the cake; Trout is arguably the best prospect in baseball (only Bryce Harper can give him a run for his money), and he’s a mere 19 years old.
Most people weren’t expecting to see Trout with the Angels until 2012, but it’s tough to argue that he doesn’t belong in the majors right now. From all reports, his tools are out of this world, and he’s given the Texas League (Double-A) a thrashing this season to the tune of 9 homeruns, 28 stolen bases, and a .429 wOBA.
That doesn’t quite do Trout justice, though. If you need a bit more perspective on his awesomeness, here are some #TroutFacts:
• Trout was born in 1991, making him the first player promoted to the majors that was born that year. And you remember how young we all thought Starlin Castro was last season? When Mike Trout was born, Castro was already over a year old.
• Trout was seventh in the Texas League in OPS, and the players averaged 4 years older than him. Oh, and if we go by wOBA, Trout was the fourth best hitter in the Texas League — a whole 58% better than league average.
• When players get promoted to the majors as teenagers, that normally means they’re really, really good. This is the recent company you’re talking about: B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, Felix Hernandez, Adrian Beltre, and Madison Bumgarner.
• But of course, if you want to be depressing, Karim Garcia, Edwin Jackson, and Rick Ankiel were also all promoted before they reached 20 years old. There are many more hits than misses among this group, but it goes to show that you can never really know, even with top-top prospects.
• Trout is young enough to be Jack McKeon’s grandson.
Classify this under “Things that are Obvious,” but I really like this move for the Angels. They’re sitting thick in the middle of a division race at the moment, only one game behind the Texas Rangers for first place, and while BPro only gives them an 18% chance of making the playoffs, they’re close enough that they might as well use the best options they have to maximize their roster this season. And even if they fall short of the playoffs this season, Trout’s promotion will surely inject some excitement into their fanbase and send the message that the organization wants to win this year.
But at the same time, I’m going to be very interested to see how the Angels manage Trout for the remainder of the season. Is he just up for a brief taste of The Show until Peter Bourjos is healthy, or will they be tempted to force him into their outfield this season? Considering how crowded the Angels’ current outfield is — and how much money they have invested in Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter — I can’t see Trout sticking up for long, unless the Angels unload someone at the deadline.
But then again….the Angels are wild cards. They took ill-advised gambles on Scott Kazmir and Vernon Wells, and they’ve handed out big money contracts to questionable, older players. They very well could decide to keep Trout up in the majors this season…and you know, depending how Trout transitions to the majors, it could make the Angels a better team in the short term. Bourjos is a terrific defender, but his offensive performance this season has been buoyed by a .364 BABIP. He’s a young player too and has plenty of upside, but at the same time, he’s certainly no Trout.
Could Trout outperform Bourjos’ .320 wOBA in center field? I have little doubt he could. Would it make the most financial sense for the Angels to make the switch? Eh, probably not. Will that stop them? I have no idea.
This is going to be a really fun situation to follow over the next couple weeks, and if nothing else, we’re going to get a short glimpse at one of the best prospects in all of baseball. What a weekend to be in
Los Angeles (erm) Anaheim!