Is Trout Bound For Triple-A?

By MJ Lloyd

Mike Trout hasn’t played in a Spring Training game yet but it already seems like he’s headed to Salt Lake City to start the season. They have delicious taffy. Or is that Atlantic City? Either way. Trout is facing a high priced logjam in the outfield for 2012. With Vernon Wells owed nearly $25 million and Torii Hunter owed $18.5 million, new GM Jerry Dipoto would have to show off some major league stones to give Trout the nod over the vets. So it’s no surprise Dipoto was in full diplomat mode when asked about the super-prospect

"“There is a big-league job for him to win, sure,” Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. “I think every player comes in with something to prove and there’s a level of competition that keeps people sharp and keeps them on their toes. Every day in the big leagues, you’re going out to prove something.“With players like Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells or Albert Pujols, there is a level of achievement and they have already proved something to the point where it deserves merit and acknowledgment that it’s their position to lose. … They are in the driver’s seat and it’s up to another player to unseat them. That’s the position, coming in to spring training, Mike Trout is in.”"

That was a long block quote, I’m exhausted. Dipoto also indicated Trout would be better served getting regular playing time at Triple-A than serving a bench role for the Halos. Trout struggled a bit hitting .220/.281/.390 in his 135 plate appearances with the Angels in 2011 but he has little left to prove in the minors. Trout will have the opportunity to compete for a starting job but that just sounds like lip service. It would probably take an injury for Trout to start the season in the Majors and I’m told Wells’ crippling on base percentage allergy does not count.

There is an opportunity cost being wasted by leaving Trout in the minors too much longer. Ignoring Trout is probably better than Wells and Hunter right now, there is a ticking clock to utilize Trout’s 80 grade speed. Maybe I’m nitpicking a bit here but it doesn’t mean it’s not true. In six years, when Trout is reaching his peak, he will no longer be an 80 runner. As always, I asked the great Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus about it.

Of course, Trout’s hit tool and power will be more advanced by then and he’ll just be a different kind of awesome player. But why not try to get the best of both worlds? I’m sure Trout will be up soon enough whether it’s an injury or Wells struggles or Trout just kicks the door open. So that whole 80 speed thing was me filling column space. Shhh.

Let me be clear though, I’m definitely in favor of starting Trout with the Angels and accidentally leaving Wells in the desert after Spring Training. With water and snacks, I’m not a monster.