Angels' young All-Stars are game-changers

July, 1, 2012
7/01/12
4:25
PM PT
First comes the speculation, then come the announcements, then comes the grumbling.

It's a yearly tradition around the All-Star Game, and why not? It's all in good fun and if you're not complaining, you're not paying attention.

Angels fans could find themselves whipping up some indignation this year if they really wanted to. What about Scott Downs? Ernesto Frieri should have made it outright, not just to a five-player vote-off in which he stands no chance (mostly because nobody north of Bakersfield or east of Blythe has ever heard of him).

Yet Angels fans have rarely had a moment like this to gloat. Not only are the Angels better-represented at the game with Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson than at any time since 1995, but Trout continues to blaze a path few have traveled, or at least way before most do.

Trout, 20, is only the 18th player in major-league history to have reached an All-Star game before his 21st birthday, according to research by the Orange County Register. Half the players getting dressed in the clubhouse with him in Kansas City were entering pro ball when Trout was still bottle-feeding, including fellow New Jersey native Derek Jeter, 38, Trout's childhood hero.

Of those 18 precocious players, six already are in the Hall of Fame and three others, Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. might be headed that direction.

On TBS' selection show, former major-league pitcher David Wells called Trout "the most electrifying player in the game."

It's particularly telling that Trout and teammate Mark Trumbo were voted in by fellow players. Few of us really know what it's like to hit a 94-mph fastball, a nasty slider or a heavy sinker. Few of us know what it's like to do something that difficult in front of 40,000 people and to have to answer questions about why we couldn't do it after the game. Players know and they can ferret out the true talents from the flashes in the pan.

It seems telling that the NL players didn't vote in Bryce Harper while the AL players were all over Trout. Neither Trout or Trumbo appears to be a flash in the pan, though they got here by different paths, Trout the short road and Trumbo the meandering trail, not sticking in the majors until he was 25. The rest of the country will get a glimpse of Trumbo's power when he participates in the July 9 Home Run Derby on ESPN.

"They are talented -- very talented -- kids," Texas manager Ron Washington said Sunday of the Angels' T and T duo. "I think Trumbo has tremendous power. He's in a position right now as a young ball player that's learning how to play different positions, which is tough at the major league level. He's handling it extremely well. He's a deep threat at the plate.

"You've got Trout, who runs like a fullback on a football team. He's got talent and power and can change the game. That's two talents these Angels have and they certainly have a lot to look forward to in the future."

That kind of seems to be the point this year.

ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett contributed to this report.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jered Weaver
WINS ERA SO IP
11 3.62 114 144
OTHER LEADERS
BAM. Trout .299
HRM. Trout 24
RBIM. Trout 76
RM. Trout 74
OPSM. Trout .970
ERAG. Richards 2.74
SOG. Richards 143