Great speed, a good bat, power, a strong throwing arm and the ability to make the great catch are tools that make the transition from the minor leagues to the majors a bit easier.
When you put them all together in one player, then you’ve got 20-year-old baseball prodigy Mike Trout.
Then there’s Mark Trumbo. The hulking outfielder may lack Trout’s foot speed, but his Trum-Bombs have pitchers wincing in anticipation of his every at-bat. Trumbo has crushed his 19 home runs a major league-best average of 419 feet.
Trout and Trumbo, as well as Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, who also spent time in Salt Lake, have their bags packed for Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on July 10 and the 83rd MLB All-Star Game. Trumbo will also be part of the Home Run Derby.
Trout’s inclusion on the AL roster also has its historic value. Only six younger players have made the team. It’s a list that includes Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle and Al Kaline.
“It’s awesome getting picked,” Trout told MLB.com. “I’m getting chills thinking about it right now. Getting to represent the Angels, having Trumbo make it and C.J. [Wilson] and Weave, it’s great.”
These former Salt Lake Bees and current Los Angeles All-Stars also share one more important tool — intelligence.
“That’s a good word for Mark,” said another former Bee and Angels’ hitting coach Jim Eppard. “He’s smart and super competitive. He evaluates each out then tries to execute what he’s figured out.”
It is not difficult to measure Trout’s impact on the Angels, who are — as of Monday — a big league best 37-21 since his arrival April 28. Trout was hitting .403 when he left the Bees with a PCL-high five triples and a handful of highlight reel catches.
Because Trout started the season in the minor leagues, he was not originally listed on the All-Star ballot. He received nearly 900,000 write-in votes, the most for any player since 2006.
“To say that I am surprised, would be an incorrect statement,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson about Trout’s season so far. “I am to a point. You’re talking about the big leagues.
“He went through his struggles last year and used that to his advantage. Now, it’s just another baseball game.”
Johnson, who was Trumbo’s hitting coach at Orem in 2005, praised both players’ ability to adjust from at-bat to at-bat. No doubt, Trout struggled as a 19-year-old rookie with the Angels last year. He hit just .220 in 40 games.
In addition, Trout was slowed by an illness during spring training that left the center fielder weak. That was why he began the year with Salt Lake. That lasted 20 games.
“Every day is a new learning experience for him,” Eppard said. “He’s easy to work with. Even when things are going right, he’ll talk for a few minutes.”
As for Trumbo, part of a failed experiment at third base to begin the season, he powered his way into the Angels’ lineup. Originally a first baseman, the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder began playing outfield in Salt Lake. He’s now comfortable in right with L.A.
“Just overjoyed,” Trumbo said to MLB.com. “To think how far I’ve come throughout my career, the chance to be a major league All-Star, it’s pretty surreal.”
Trout and Trumbo combination
Mike Trout hit .403 with one homer, 13 RBIs, 21 runs, six steals and five triples in 20 games with the Bees this past spring before being called up by the Angels.
In 2010, Mark Trumbo played 139 games for Salt Lake, driving in 122 runs with 36 homers and a .301 batting average
Trout received 832,439 write-in votes, the most for any player since Freddy Sanchez of Pittsburgh in 2006.
The only players younger than Trout to make an MLB All-Star Game were Butch Wynegar, Ivan Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., Mickey Mantle, Al Kaline and Claudell Washington.