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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

July 8, 2011 at 4:55 AM

Phenom called up to play in Anaheim tonight — for the Angels

Three weeks ago, Mariners fans had the adrenalin rush of watching their long-awaited top prospect, Dustin Ackley, hit the major leagues.

Tonight, Angels fans will experience the same phenomenon, and the Mariners will be along for the ride. After beating the Mariners 5-1 on Thursday, the Angels summoned outfielder Mike Trout, who has jostled all year with Washington’s Bryce Harper for the honor of being the top prospect in the entire minor leagues. Trout will be in uniform, and presumably in the outfield, when the Angels and Mariners meet again tonight.

Heading into the season, ESPN and MLB.com had Trout at No. 1, Baseball America at No. 2. Virtually everyone believes he has superstar written all over him (which is nothing a good shower won’t erase, unless it was written all over him with a Sharpie).

Trout, at 19, will become the youngest player in the major leagues when he arrives from Double-A Arkansas. The Angels made the call because center fielder Peter Bourjos hurt his hamstrong last nigt, apparently while running out a double in the eighth inning. Bourjos could be headed to the DL. My only regret is that Mike Carp is not on hand to face Mike Trout in an epic Battle of the Fishes. But maybe former Angel great Tim Salmon will swim upstream to Angel Stadium for the event.

Trout has speed and power. He’s big (6-1, 200), and is hitting .330 with nine homers,11 triples, 27 RBIs and 28 stolen bases for Arkansas in 74 games. He hit .341 with 56 steals last year as an 18-year-old in A ball, .352 in 44 games as a 17-year-old in 2009 in rookie league and A ball.

The juxtaposition of Trout and Ackley will be interesting. Both were taken in the first round of the 2009 draft, Ackley No. 2 overall out of North Carolina, Trout No. 25 overall out of high school in Vineland, N.J. In other words, the Mariners could have had him. Now, they’re very happy with Ackley, but scouts have consistently rated Trout higher for the past year or so.

Here’s what ESPN’s Keith Law wrote before the season in naming Trout his No. 1 overall prosect (ahead of, in order, Harper, Dominic Brown, Jesus Montero, Eric Hosmer, Julio Teheran, and Ackley): “If MLB ordered a do-over on the 2009 draft, Mike Trout, the 25th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels, would likely be the second overall selection after Stephen Strasburg, even ahead of some of the other top-shelf prospects who’ve come out of that draft.”

Law’s scouting report continues: “Trout’s performance reflects his outstanding tools. He’s an 80 runner, not just fast underway but explosively quick out of the box. That speed, combined with good instincts, gives him good range in centerfield. At the plate, he’s an intelligent, disciplined hitter, with very good hand-eye coordination and a direct path to the ball. He has good leverage in his swing with a well-timed weight transfer to his front foot, and strong follow-through, so he should hit for above-average power as well as high batting averages. And Trout consistently gets the highest marks from the Angels for makeup, work ethic, and ability to take instruction.

It defies belief that the Angels fired Eddie Bane, the scouting director who made the Trout selection, just 16 months after the pick; they’ll enjoy the fruits of his labor for many years to come, as Trout should see the majors within the next two years, and has the potential to become one of the best players in the game by his mid-20s.”

Just what Mariner fans need, right? Another superstar to lament not drafting. But again, Ackley looks like a major talent in his own right, so we’ll have to see this all plays out. The drama begins tonight — with the Mariners on hand.

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