Name: Mike Trout
Notable 2011 Stats: .326/.414/.544 with 18 2B, 13 3B, 11 HR, 76/45 K/BB, and 33-for-43 SB in 91 games with Arkansas (AA);
.220/.281/.390 with 6 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 30/9 K/BB, and 4-for-4 SB in 40 games with Angels
Why He’s This High: As incredible as the age-relative-to-level performances of Bryce Harper and Jurickson Profar were in 2011, Trout takes the cake. He was two levels above both and just over a year older, and yet his triple-slash line was better than Profar’s and very similar to Harper’s. He also provides more value on the bases than either thanks to his top-of-the-line speed, and as a very good center fielder, his defensive value is up there with just about any prospect in the minors.
Trout was the rare player to make the majors at age 19, and he acquitted himself just fine. Yes, his batting average was low, but he showed some secondary skills, with a 6.7% walk rate and .171 ISO. Overall, he was worth 0.8 WAR in 40 games already, and it’s easy to see him as an average starting center fielder in 2012 despite being just 20 years old.
If Bryce Harper is the ideal cleanup hitter, and Jurickson Profar is the ideal leadoff hitter, Trout is the ideal #3 hitter in traditional baseball terms (a #2 hitter if you subscribe to sabermetric lineup construction), as he should hit 20+ homers per season and hit .300 while playing excellent outfield defense and stealing 40+ bases per season.
As he is the #1 prospect on the list, I can’t do a “Why He’s This Low” section, and there really isn’t a whole lot to put there. Trout only hit 16 homers this year, so he’s not yet a huge power threat…but he nonetheless managed to rip enough doubles and triples to post the great SLG in Double-A and the good MLB ISO. His K/BB dropped from 2010, but it remained much better than 2/1 in Double-A; I’d expect that to improve to its previously impressive levels as Trout matures.
Conclusions: You could make a case to rank Trout as low as 4th, but being a position player, he’s a safer bet than Matt Moore, and he’s more advanced than either Harper or Profar; in fact, he’s just shy of losing prospect status, so he’s about as experienced as someone on one of these lists can get (in the majors, anyway). It’s certainly arguable if he belongs in this spot, but that doesn’t matter in the end–what matters is that he’s a very good bet to join Albert Pujols as a franchise centerpiece with the Angels in fairly short order.
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