Angels' Trout named MLB.com's top prospect
Speedy outfielder heads list of top 50 up-and-coming players
ANAHEIM -- An exceptional athlete with the frame and speed of a free safety and the full-tilt attitude of a young Pete Rose, outfielder Mike Trout now stands alone as the biggest fish in a deep and impressive pool of Major League Baseball prospects.
In the view of industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors, polled by MLB.com, Trout is the No. 1 prospect in the sport. The results were announced in the annual Top 50 rankings on Tuesday night on MLB Network.
Rounding out the top five are right-handed pitcher Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown and Mariners second baseman Dustin Ackley.
The Angels have no other prospects on the Top 50 list, but Mark Trumbo ranked 10th among first baseman and 2011 top Draft pick Kaleb Cowart is ninth at third base.
Trout, one of two Angels first-round choices in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, turned 19 on Aug. 7 in the midst of an eye-popping 2010 season.
After hitting .362 with 45 steals and a .526 slugging mark at Class A Cedar Rapids, where he would be named the Midwest League MVP, he appeared in the All-Star Futures Game preceding the MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium.
Gracing his future home turf, Trout put on a dazzling show. He doubled, stole a base, forced two errors with his speed and covered tons of ground in center field and the gaps.
Moving up to advanced A Rancho Cucamonga after the break, he batted .306 and slugged .434, hitting .367 with three homers in the California League playoffs.
Trout will experience big league camp for the first time in Arizona this spring. He was an instant hit last spring in Cactus League play, slashing a double and triple to each gap in his first three at-bats, showcasing his blazing speed.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia has been a Trout fan since the first time he saw him in the flesh.
"Mike Trout has tremendous upside," Scioscia said. "He can really run, and he can do a lot of things on the field, offensively and defensively. Obviously, we're extremely high on him. He's an exciting player with a tremendous attitude.
"At some point, if you project where Mike's going to be. I'd be surprised if he's not on our depth chart at some time late in the year. I'm not saying he's going to get called up. He's obviously opened up a lot of eyes. When he's ready, he'll get an opportunity."
Trout is expected to open the season at Double-A Arkansas, rolling on that fast track toward The Show.
"There's still growth coming with Mike," Scioscia said. "He's been remarkable coming out of high school to where he is now. You're not going to see many guys who put it together as quickly. At every level, as you go up, you have to make adjustments."
Trout's dream season included his selection as the recipient of the 51st annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Topps/Minor League Player of the Year. He was the youngest player to win the award at 19 years, two months.
Andruw Jones was 19 years, six months old when he was named Topps/Minor League Player of the Year in 1996.
Drafted out of Millville (N.J.) Senior High School with the 25th overall pick, Trout was followed closely and signed by area scout Greg Morhardt after excelling in football and basketball in addition to baseball. He was as dominant on the mound as at the plate and in the field.
"I asked him this spring what he's thinking when he hits a ball in a gap," Scioscia said. "He told me he's thinking triple all the way. This guy has really unbelievable speed. He's right there with Peter [Bourjos], which is saying something."
Bourjos, who might be as fast as any player in baseball, moved nine-time Rawlings Gold Glover Torii Hunter to right field with his arrival in August and had two sensational months with the glove.
"We haven't raced each other," Bourjos said. "I don't know how that would come out, but it would be interesting. Mike can really run."
Hunter is fully aware of Bourjos' talents and has caught glimpses of Trout in Cactus League games.
"These kids, Bourjos and Trout, can fly," Hunter said. "I look at them, and I'm like, 'Wow.' They can cover some ground. And they're great kids. They want to learn and be great players. The Angels really have something for the future."
In the 2009 Draft, the Angels used consecutive picks at Nos. 24 and 25 to land outfielder Randal Grichuk of Lamar Consolidated High School in Rosenberg, Tex., followed by Trout. These were picks the club acquired as compensation for the free-agent signings of Francisco Rodriguez by the Mets and Mark Teixeira by the Yankees, respectively.
In high school, Trout was clocked by scouts at 6.38 in the 60-yard dash. Anything 6.5 and under is plus speed.
"That 6.38 is a scout's timing, we're not electronic," former scouting director Eddie Bane said after the Draft. "But you see few guys get under 6.5. Trout and Bourjos would be the fastest guys in our organization -- and Bourjos can fly.
"Trout is faster than most everybody else in the Draft -- and he's put together. He's the first guy from that area ever to go in the first round, so they're really excited back in Jersey. His dad, Jeff, played in the Minor Leagues when I was playing. He comes from a real baseball family and environment."
Last year's Rookie of the Year Award winners both ranked in the top 10 of the 2010 Top 50 Prospects list. Giants catcher Buster Posey was No. 4, while Rangers closer Neftali Feliz ranked No. 7.
Only qualified rookies are eligible for the honor roll created by baseball insiders asked to form their judgments based on skill sets, upside, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.