- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Mark Trumbo led all of minor league baseball with 36 home runs last year.
Ask Brandon Wood how those numbers translate.
What the Angels are seeing is that Trumbo isn't slowing down as opposing teams learn his tendencies, he's improving. Most impressive about the rookie's 17 home runs -- the most for an Angels rookie at the All-Star break since Tim Salmon's 1993 Rookie of the Year season -- is who they've come against.
Trumbo hit a two-run home run -- a hooking line drive into the left-field corner -- to tie the game off reigning Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez Sunday. That gave Trumbo three straight games with a home run. He also has homered this year off Tim Hudson, David Price and Jon Lester. The Angels keep tabs on how their minor league guys do against the toughest pitching in the league and Trumbo was always right at the top.
"You’re seeing that power play in the big leagues and I think that’s what’s impressive," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "You see a lot of guys come up with tools and maybe it doesn’t come out on the field."
Trumbo had never faced Hernandez before, so he talked to several Angels veterans before the game to get a feel for how the big right-hander likes to attack hitters. In fact, he also talked to Salmon, a part-time Angels broadcaster.
Trumbo struck out in his first at-bat, but -- after watching Hernandez for a few innings from the top step of the dugout -- he had learned enough to adjust. He looked for a sinker on the inner half, figuring Hernandez would try to get him to hit into a double play. He got one -- at 92 mph -- and pummeled it.
"I guess a lot of people have said that it’s going to get tougher once they’ve seen me, but I’ve always felt the ball shifts in my court a little bit after I’ve seen them," Trumbo said. "I’m pretty optimistic going into the second half."