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Angels send 20-year-old top prospect Mike Trout to minors

Mar 30, 2012, 1:16 PM EDT

Mike Trout Getty Images

Mike Trout played 40 games in the majors last season, but with the Angels’ first base/corner outfield/designated hitter logjam already causing them to shop Bobby Abreu and move Mark Trumbo to third base there was no room for him in the lineup.

Today the team made official what has been expected all spring, optioning Trout to Triple-A.

Trout is universally regarded as one of the top three prospects in baseball along with Bryce Harper and Matt Moore, but while he’s probably one of the Angels’ nine best players already he’s also just 20 years old with zero experience at Triple-A and has been hurt/sick for much of camp.

Letting him knock around Pacific Coast League pitching for six weeks while the Angels sort out their roster isn’t the worst idea even if you think Trout is ready to thrive in the majors at 20. He’ll be called up for good soon enough and when that happens they’ll want to play him every day without worrying about playing time for the logjam of veteran bats.

Last season at Double-A he hit .326 with 11 homers, 33 steals, and a .958 OPS in 91 games, but Trout hit just .220 with five homers, four steals, and a .672 OPS in 40 games for the Angels.

  1. js20011041 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    If I were an Angels fan, I’d probably be pulling my hair out right now. What they should do is play Trout in left and cut Vernon Wells and eat his contract. And they should have traded Trumbo this offseason while his value was at its peak, and start Callaspo at 3rd. Trumbo may have a decent amount of power, but you can’t live with an everyday player with a sub .300 OBP unless he provides game changing defense at a premium position. But hey, at least no more Jeff Mathis.

  2. stex52 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    I agree with you in principle, in the medium term you write off the sunk cost and go with the best. I am not a close Angels follower, but for the moment what they are doing is probably fine. It sounds like he could still use a little Triple A experience and they do want to see if they can clear the mess out. Once he starts clobbering the ball again and they have figured out what deals they can cut, though, you are right. I see so many silly cases of teams carrying multi-million dollar contracts because they have to pay them, and yet are unwilling to spend 400 K$ at the MLB level for much better performance.

    Burn that bridge and move on.

  3. dallasstars9 - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    There’s a reason why neither of you are Angel fans. Trade Trumbo? Are you crazy?! If there is one thing this team has proven over the years, it’s how to handle their young talent.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Is this sarcasm? Does Brandon Wood ring a bell? Or Mike Napoli?

      As for Trumbo, his highest OBP in the minors prior to 2010 was .331 with a .291 BA (37 walks in 137 games).

      • ezthinking - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        How was Wood mishandled? He just can’t hit MLB pitching. Napoli got more ab’s in 09 and 10 than he did in Tex, he just didn’t produce the same. Mostly his batting average and onbase soared with 40% more walks and 10 more hits. So lucky for Tex.

        The plan laid out for Trout seems real smart, especially with his health a question after losing 10+ lbs from the flu.

      • dallasstars9 - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        No sarcasm here. Does Howie Kendrick ring a bell? Maybe Morales, or Bourjos, or Weaver?? I could go on naming players that have impacted this team. And Napoli, he didn’t get along with Scioscia and has gone on to be great in Texas, so what’s your point? Trumbo was easily this teams MVP last year!!

      • hackerjay - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:01 PM

        In 06, 07, and 08 Napoli played fewer then 100 games every year even though he was tearing the cover off the ball, and then once the Angels actualy gave him playing time they gave him away for nothing. There is no way you can justify the Angel’s handling of him.

        And the only reason Napoli was limited last year was because he went on the DL.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        Does Howie Kendrick ring a bell? Maybe Morales, or Bourjos, or Weaver?? I could go on naming players that have impacted this team.

        So essentially your basis is if Player is Good, team handled him well, and if Player is Bad, team didn’t handle him well?

        So I ask again, what happened to Brandon Wood? And maybe Napoli didn’t get along with Scoscia because Scoscia continually played a worse Jeff Mathis over him?

        Trumbo was easily this teams MVP last year!!

        Now I know you are being sarcastic

      • dallasstars9 - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:26 PM

        Trumbo last year was 5th on the team in Runs, 4th in Hits, 3rd in doubles, and led the team in HRs and RBIs – So ya, I think he was the teams MVP because without him the Angels would have been a lot further back than just 10 games.

      • paperlions - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:46 PM

        Making outs is bad. They are the only limiting resource in baseball, once you use up your allotment of 27, you are done. Guys that use up a lot of outs generally are not productive players. Trumbo wasn’t anything approaching the most valuable position player in the Angels (defense matters too), and most of the Angels rotation was a LOT more valuable (i.e. contributed more to winning) than Trumbo was.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        So ya, I think he was the teams MVP because without him the Angels would have been a lot further back than just 10 games.

        fWAR:
        Trumbo – 2.3

        batting list of people higher than him
        Hunter – 2.5, Callaspo – 3.6, Aybar 4.0, Bourjos – 4.3, and Kendrick – 5.8
        pitching list of people higher than him
        Santana – 3.2, Weaver – 5.6, and Haren – 6.4

        rWAR:
        Trumbo – 2.1

        batting
        Hunter – 2.2, Izturis – 3.2, Kendrick – 4.3, Callaspo – 4.5, Aybar – 4.7, and Bourjos – 5.0
        pitching
        Downs – 2.2, Santana – 3.1, Haren – 4.0, and Weaver – 6.6

        I’d easily put Weaver and Haren ahead of Trumbo as well as Bourjos and Kendrick.

    • paperlions - Mar 30, 2012 at 3:18 PM

      They wouldn’t have gotten much for Trumbo, he’s entering his peak years, can only play 1B, and his minor league resume strongly suggests that a .300 OBP is about what you might expect from him in the majors. That just isn’t good enough for a player that provides no defensive value….and most teams know that…even if most fans don’t want to hear it.

  4. APBA Guy - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    The main point of the story was sending Trout down. Keep in mind that from Day 1 of the season the Angels are in a cage fight with Texas. There is a likelihood that the loser gets the second wild card spot, but no guarantee of that, as maybe the Jays or a surprise team in the Central could contest for that spot.

    So given that they are playing to win every game, let’s acknowledge that Trout is better off playing everyday until a defined opportunity opens up for him, either through trade, performance, or injury. Once that happens, I think the Angels won’t hesitate to bring him up. They want to win now.

    • js20011041 - Mar 30, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      The fact that the race could be so tight kind of supports my argument, I think. Trout should be playing everyday and it should be in MLB. Why start Wells for the first 5 or 6 weeks, and then bring Trout up after he falters. Let’s be honest. If Wells was making the league minimum, does he even make this team? I think that the Angels are going to fall into the same trap almost every team falls into in that they are going to try to extract some value from that contract regardless of whether the team is better with or without him. Even if Wells does bounce back to what were career norms for him, we’re still merely talking about an average offensive player. Trout is going to need major league at bats to reach his potential and I think he can still out perform Wells right now.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 30, 2012 at 8:42 PM

      Forget the surprise team, the Yanks, Angels, Rays, Sox and Rangers are already playing musical playoff spots. Although Toronto being better than expected probably helps the Angels, as a fourth competitive ALE team probably makes it that much less likely that the third-best team from the Beast gets the second WC.

  5. Glen - Mar 31, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Key words: “he’s also just 20 years old with zero experience at Triple-A and has been hurt/sick for much of camp.” I’m an Angels fan and I’m excited about this kid, but right now he wouldn’t get many starts on the big team for various reasons. Let him fully recover in AAA, prove he can handle it there, and he’ll either be a mid-season or a September call-up, and starting in 2013 if all goes well.

  6. zfreak666 - Mar 31, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    Glen says:
    Let him fully recover in AAA, prove he can handle it there, and he’ll either be a mid-season or a September call-up, and starting in 2013 if all goes well.

    Well said.

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