Full Scouting Report: Angels Outfield Prospect Mike Trout
Yes, the Angels have lost some players to free agency, but you can't help but like the next wave of talent. Right at the forefront of that wave is Trout, their first-round selection from a year ago. I recently got an extended look at Trout, who is currently with low Single-A Cedar Rapids, in Peoria, Ill. Here is what I saw from the 18-year-old outfielder:
Even at 18 years old, Trout has the strong frame of an older player. That does not mean, however, that he is maxed out physically. He keeps himself in excellent condition, and it shows in his athleticism. Trout is trim and strong in the upper body. He's a smooth, natural athlete that makes everything look easy.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 217 pounds, you might think Trout is stocky, but he holds the weight very well. He does not appear to be well over 200 pounds, but this is a guy who is rock solid. There's been some worry about him thickening up, but if he can stay around what he is now, he looks to be in ideal shape and condition for his style of play.
There are plenty of athletic center fielders with plus speed out there. In fact, they litter the minor leagues. There are few guys that can also swing the bat like Trout, though. Forget the speed and the ability in center field. His bat is what sets the right-handed swinging outfielder apart. The key to Trout's game at the plate is his ability to stay back and use his hands.
Many young hitters struggle to learn to trust their hands and they continue to lunge at off-speed pitches. That hasn't been an issue for Trout, and, in fact, it's a strength. Trout showed me that he was able to lay off some tough pitches, and if a pitcher came in the zone with a breaking ball he was able to lay back and use his hands very well. He isn't just staying back and hitting singles to right field either. He's driving the ball with authority into the gaps on these pitches.
In other words, Trout is not a guy you have to worry about being a pure fastball hitter as he moves up the ladder. He has the luxury of excellent bat speed, plus a calm approach and demeanor at the plate, so that he can trust himself to still be able to turn around the fastball if he gets it. There aren't many players out there that profile as pure high average hitters, but he is one of them. From what I saw in Peoria, Trout has the look of a perennial .300 hitter, and given his speed, he is a potential batting title contender. With his feel with the bat head, plus bat speed and good pitch selection I could also see him developing into a 25-homer threat.
In terms of weaknesses at the plate, there isn't a lot to point out. He will expand the zone up at times, and occasionally got beat on the inner half when looking away down in the count. That's nitpicking at this point, however.
Speaking of home run power, Trout does have it and already he's a smart enough hitter to pick out pitches he can drive. There's not a lot of natural lift in his swing, but when he drives a ball he does have an extra gear in the gaps. He has solid present game power and plus raw power. In due time this will translate into plus game power as well. The bat speed, approach and physical strength he already has is going to produce some good thump that will play even better at the top of the lineup.
On the 2-8 scouting scale, Trout grades out around a 7. He's quick out of the box, and he's already a very good bunter. He likes to push bunt, and it's nice to see a player at his age already embracing the way his speed could elevate his game at the plate. To top it off, he shows some real smarts on the bases as well, and has the look of a 40-steal threat at the big-league level.
He has the speed, the quick first step and instincts to the play center field. That much can be said for Trout. There's always a question of whether young center fielders can stick at the position as they mature physically and fill out. For me there is no question that he can stick in center because of his athleticism and plus speed. He goes back on the ball exceptionally, and was able to track deep drives in right center, while shading toward left for right-handed batters. Unlike a lot of young outfielders, he looks consistent and comfortable tracking balls straight over his head and makes plays look far easier than they are.
Trout is a very natural center fielder. He takes charge, and does all the things you like to see in terms of range and arm. His arm is just about average, but he made some accurate, on-line throws to third base and was able to carry the mound on medium-depth fly balls to center. And, given his ability at the plate, being able to stick and play at an above-average level at a premium position makes him quite a valuable commodity.
If it sounds like Trout can do it all, then the message is coming through loud and clear. Rarely do you find players this young with so few noticeable flaws. He plays like a much older player, and has the physical skills to go with it. This is the Angels' center fielder of the future.
Frankie Piliere spent the last three seasons working as a scout, most recently in the professional scouting department for the Texas Rangers in 2009. He now serves as the National Baseball Analyst here at FanHouse.