Anaheim's Mike Trout: The future face of MLB

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2014 - 5:56 PM
hide

Mike Trout celebrates as he returns to home plate after hitting the game-winning solo home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros on Friday, July 4, 2014, in Anaheim, Calif. The Angels won 7-6. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Photo: Alex Gallardo, ASSOCIATED PRESS - AP

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

People like to say that the All-Star Game is for the fans. They get to vote, they get to debate, they get to watch and cheer — it’s all for the fans, baseball sells us, and we buy it. ¶ But the stars themselves know different. They may grumble about the lost days off, they may complain about the extra travel and the endless promotional responsibilities that are foisted on them. But the moment a ballplayer walks through that clubhouse door and sees his temporary teammates, when he recognizes the faces of the greatest the game has to offer and realizes he belongs among them, that’s when the truth strikes: The All-Star Game is really for the players.

“There’s nothing like it. I’m not that old, so I’m in that clubhouse with guys I’ve watched growing up. It’s so cool to be around them, get to talk to them, sit on the bench with them, just be in the same dugout with all those stars,” Mike Trout says, staring straight ahead as he remembers it. “Last year, just being in the same clubhouse with Mariano [Rivera], knowing that’s one of the greatest ever standing right there, it was pretty awesome.”

So what did Trout say to the great Yankees closer?

“Oh, I didn’t talk to him at all. I mean, I gave him his space,” Trout said. “I didn’t want to intrude.”

Yep, that about sums up Mike Trout. More bashful than brash, more reverent than rash, Trout may be the last person on Earth who would ever publicly suggest something that virtually everyone else, scouts and sabermetricians alike, agrees is settled: That he is, at age 22, the best all-around player in the game already. In a recent 15-minute conversation, Trout mentioned “respect” or used the phrase “respect for the game” seven times, a BHQ (basic humble quotient) of 5.42 that confirms about his makeup what his OPS+, WAR and PSN, not to mention every scouting report in existence, tell us about his makeup.

“He is never cocky. He’s a very grounded young man who just loves to play baseball,” said Trout’s manager, Mike Scioscia. “He was brought up right.”

And still is, in some ways. Trout speaks to his parents, Debbie and Jeff, every day, he said, and he famously still lives in the family house in Millville, N.J., in the offseason. “People always mention that, but it’s not like I’m home much. It’s like staying with family when you go visit them,” Trout said. “It’s just [where] I’m comfortable.”

Comfort is something that Trout denies the pitchers he faces. He led the AL in stolen bases as a rookie, he’s finished in the top 10 of the first two batting races he’s been a part of, and he reached 75 home runs third-fastest in baseball history. He also patrols center field as though he’s playing right and left, too.

For that reason, it’s no surprise that Trout was a unanimous choice this spring of Baseball Writers Association of America members who took part in a Star Tribune survey asking to name each league’s best “Five-Tool Player.” Adam Jones and Manny Machado, both of Baltimore, finished second and third in the AL balloting, but nobody listed any name but “Trout” on the top line.

And you don’t have to watch him long to understand why. He has a textbook swing powered by some of the fastest hands in the game, allowing him to spray hits with authority despite looking like he’s placing them precisely where he intends.

But his quick feet form the tool that Trout maintains he treasures most. “All the other stuff — hitting for power, throwing arm — they mainly help you on one side. But speed is important for both offense and defense,” Trout said. “I do a lot of work maintaining my legs, keeping them fresh, working on strength. Getting on base, covering ground in the outfield — speed is really important to me.”

But here’s the thing about Trout: There’s something for everyone. One of his teammates realized that Trout would be a superstar when he saw him swing a bat. One came to the same conclusion after watching him not swing. And an American League advance scout joined the bandwagon without even watching him at the plate.

For Angels catcher Hank Conger, the first oh-my moment came during Trout’s brief 2012 stay in Class AAA, where he was batting .403 for Salt Lake — “video-game numbers,’’ Conger said — before being called up for good.

“We were in Reno, and he’s leading off the game. [Second] pitch of the game, it looked like they tried to jam him, and he just inside-outed the ball to right-center,” Conger recounted. “It was a bomb. It had to be like 460, 480 feet — the opposite way! It was unbelievable. That’s when I knew.”

A few weeks later, when Trout burst into the majors by collecting hits in eight of his first 11 games, Torii Hunter realized that his new teammate would eventually claim his old job in the Angels outfield. It wasn’t so much how he hit that impressed him, Hunter said; it was how he didn’t hit.

“Right away, I would notice his plate presence, how he already could work the count. He’d get down 0-2 and just keep at it ’til it’s 3-2,” Hunter said. “He’s only 20 years old and he’s already got plate awareness. ... I told him, ‘You remind me of a guy named Joe Mauer.’ ”

What’s amazing is, Trout still is improving, still adding to his game.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
8:10 PM ET123456789RHE
ClevelandT. Bauer (5-8)000
MinnesotaP. Hughes (15-10)000
@theBallpark
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles 0 Top 1st Inning
Chicago Cubs 0
Boston - A. Webster 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - J. Locke
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Washington - D. Fister 6:10 PM
Miami - T. Koehler
Chicago WSox - J. Quintana 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 6:35 PM
Atlanta - J. Teheran
Cleveland - T. Bauer 7:10 PM
Minnesota - P. Hughes
Detroit - J. Verlander 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Vargas
Seattle - T. Walker 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Arizona - C. Anderson 7:10 PM
Colorado - J. Lyles
Cincinnati - D. Holmberg 7:15 PM
St. Louis - J. Lackey
Philadelphia - D. Buchanan 8:35 PM
Oakland - J. Lester
Texas - L. Bonilla 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
San Francisco - T. Hudson 9:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 9:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Toronto 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close