Mike Trout has the power to amaze
July, 20, 2012
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireMike Trout homered Friday night to give him 15 this season, good for third on the Angels.
ANAHEIM -- The reason Mike Trout has struck the major leagues with such meteoric force is it's impossible to fathom where his talents will lead.
Is he blossoming into a great disruptor, a speedster who forces his way onto the basepaths any way he can and then creates havoc? Is it the all-around game that defines him, the ability to hit for average, play Gold Glove defense and drive the ball into gaps?
You literally can't put a ceiling on what he might do, because -- at age 20 -- he's probably only about two-thirds as good as he might be one day. Think about that for a minute.
If there is one aspect of this remarkable two-and-a-half months that has mildly surprised baseball people, it's how quickly his power has emerged. In the minor leagues, scouts graded him at the top of their scale for speed, near the top for defense and hitting and somewhere in the middle for his arm. The power was an X factor, a matter for debate. Some scouts wondered if he would hit the ball with enough lift to be a 25-to-30-home run threat. How can you really tell with a teenager?
Maybe the moral of the story is never to underestimate a player this talented.
"He showed glimpses of it, but the variety of pitches he's been able to drive and off of some good pitchers is something you're not going to expect from a kid his age," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after Friday's 6-1 win over the Rangers. "I won't say it surprises us, because he has that potential.
"Everything that Mike is doing, you don't say, 'Gosh, where is that coming from?' What you say is, 'My gosh, he's playing to his potential at such a young age.'"
In 1,040 minor league at-bats, Trout hit 22 home runs.
In 417 major league at-bats, he has hit 20. Isn't it supposed to be harder up here?
If anybody had any doubts about Trout's natural power before this week, they don't now. His last two home runs, including one Friday, went to the opposite field, where only the game's strongest hitters can reach. After spotting the American League the first three weeks of the season while he revved his engine at Triple-A, Trout has 15 home runs, which rank him third on the Angels behind two of the game's most powerful men, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo.
And the most encouraging thing is it's a byproduct rather than an end. He is, after all, a leadoff hitter. He said he told himself to try to hit the ball up the middle against Derek Holland in the seventh inning Friday and he did, nestling it into the third row over the out-of-town scoreboard.
"I just feel comfortable at the plate, getting good pitches to hit and putting good swings on them, squaring them up," Trout said.
So he's not trying to hit home runs?
"Oh no, no. Just trying to get on base," he said.