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Video: Mike Trout playing for Millville High School (2009)

In celebration of Mike Trout‘s 21st birthday, here is a video of him playing on a god-awful field as a high school senior:

And who doesn’t love a little bonus Trout?

Courtesy of my employer.

Prospect Buzz: Montero, Goldschmidt, Hosmer, Wheeler, and Trout


As usual, the Flagrant Fan continues to churn out impressive work.  One of my daily must-read sites, the Fan also does a great job maintaining order as the President of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s General Chapter.  Yesterday he wrote about the Yankees’ catching situation and how Jesus Montero’s bat needs to be in the everyday lineup in 2012.  And you know what? I couldn’t agree with the Fan more.

Mike Newman of Scouting the Sally and FanGraphs explores Bill James’s 2012 projections for Paul Goldschmidt—a player Newman’s personally scouted—and more specifically, his .382 wOBA, which would place him in elite company.  Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming Q&A with Mike, who has scouted many of baseball’s most exciting prospects in the Sally.

Also at FanGraphs, you can read a Q&A with Eric Hosmer in which he thoroughly discusses his swing and overall approach to hitting. (Sometimes I have to resist the urge to post links to every FanGraphs article; what an absolutely phenomenal site.

As we gradually unveil our Post-2011 Top 50 Prospects, I’d like to draw attention to Seedlings to Stars, who are also in the midst of their own prospect countdown.  However, their Top 100 is a bit more ambitious and really well done.  Just today we named Zack Wheeler as our No. 41 prospect, while at S2S, he was just ranked No. 51. I’m excited to see how our Top 50 rankings compare.

One of my colleagues and good buddies MJ Lloyd—a fellow staff writer at Tomahawk Take and a newly appointed staff writer at Halo Hangout—shares his thoughts on Mike Trout’s loss of rookie status for 2012.  As he contends, it really doesn’t matter. Trout will be an impact player whether he’s considered a rookie or not.

Golden Sombrero: Bobby Abreu

Top 1: Bobby Abreu struck out swinging against Dustin McGowan

Top 3: struck out swinging against McGowan

Top 6: called out on strikes against Jesse Litsch

Top 7: called out on strikes against Luis Perez

Top 8: flew out to center against Carlos Villanueva

Final Line: 0-for-5, 4 K

Notes: Abreu notched his first golden sombrero of the season on Wednesday against the Blue Jays.  A week away from completing the worst season of his career, this will be the first time Abreu has finished with less than 150 games played (136), double-digit home runs (7), sub-.400 slugging (.360), sub-1.0 fWAR (0.2), and sub-.142 ISO since bursting onto the scene with the Phillies in 1998.

Total 2011 Sombreros: 120

Come on out to the ballpark with us, Part II: One fan’s top five MLB venues

5. Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Anaheim, CA)

Angel Stadium, despite being the fourth-oldest ballpark in the Majors today, is definitely an interesting ballpark and a fun place to watch a ballgame.  One of its notable features is the rockpile in left center field.  Scattered with a few palm trees and set against a background of hundreds of parked cars beyond the outfield gates, the rockpile gives Angel Stadium a unique feel.  A couple of blocks away in the parking lot, a huge Angels logo known as “The Big A” lights up after all Angels victories.  But perhaps my favorite feature of Angel Stadium is the famous Rally Monkey, who of course earned national prominence in the 2002 World Series.  Late in the game, with the Angels down a run against the lowly Indians, a playoff berth well out of reach, southern California’s favorite primate made a dramatic appearance on the video board, shown saving the world from Armageddon much to the delight of the hometown crowd.  The Angels went quietly in the ninth and lost the game 3-2, but the Rally Monkey no doubt made for some excitement in the late innings, even during a lost season for the Halos.

4. Busch Stadium (St. Louis, MO)

Busch Stadium may have been placed unfairly high on this list due to the fact that my most memorable game there was the Cardinals’ 2006 Series-clinching win over the Tigers in Game 5, enjoyed in the comfort of the exclusive Redbird Club.  Every part of the ballpark was state-of-the-art, including the gourmet pizzas served in the Redbird Club.  Still, the downtown location of the five-year-old ballpark and the rabid St. Louis fans also helped make this ballpark special.  Despite boasting football and hockey teams, St. Louis is and always has been a baseball town, and the fans there love their Cardinals.  Of course, having stars like Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter around certainly doesn’t hurt, but I quickly got the feeling that that fans would fill Busch Stadium night after night even to see a seventy-win team.  And since the Golden Sombrero’s base of operations is still located in the St. Louis area, I know one day I’ll be back at Busch Stadium, and I certainly look forward to that day.

3. Yankee Stadium (Bronx, NY)

Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009, is the newest ballpark I have visited, and it obviously has several features that set it apart from other venues.  Among the most notable of these are the legendary “Bleacher Creatures” in right field.  The Creatures are known chiefly for their “roll call” in the top of the first inning, when they chant the names of each Yankee infielder and outfielder until they offer their acknowledgment.  The creatures are also known to mercilessly heckle opposing teams, fans and (especially) right fielders.  Fortunately for Eric Young Jr., the Rockies do not inspire too much venom in opposing fans, because his bumbling performance the last time I was there left much to be heckled.

I think the mere words “Yankee Stadium” raised my expectations to the point where I was somehow expecting the hallowed grounds of Ruth, Gehrig and so many others to be something more than just a nice place to watch a ballgame.  Make no mistake—it’s a very nice ballpark, and the Yankee Museum inside the ballpark (which I had time to visit while the Bombers were crushing a hapless Aaron Cook) is also a very cool feature of the park.  Watching Mariano Rivera nail down a save to clinch the AL East title (on their way to a world championship) over the Red Sox was certainly one of the more memorable events in baseball that I’ve witnessed in person.  Yankee Stadium misses the #1 slot not for any shortcoming in its own right, but merely because as a non-Yankee fan, I suppose I never felt its “Yankee mystique” that I assumed would touch every fan to pass through its gates.

2. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore, MD)

Camden Yards ushered in a new era of ballparks when it opened in 1992.  Just two years later, Jacobs Field opened in Cleveland, mercifully shutting the doors on Cleveland Municipal Stadium.  Coors Field opened the following year, and others such as PETCO and AT&T Park quickly sprang up before the decade was out.  Located in Baltimore’s beautiful Inner Harbor neighborhood, by far the nicest area of the city, Camden is truly a choice destination for any night on the town.  It’s also easily accessible from Washington via a quick trip on the Camden line of a local commuter rail.  Although fans are very casual about the game and largely treat it as more of an event, much like in PETCO Park or Dodger Stadium, the actual ballpark itself is very well-constructed and there’s hardly a bad seat in the house.  With Eutaw Street fronting a red brick building in the background, it has a true baseball feel, even though it was built in an era when many facilities were used for baseball and football.  The ballpark has never hosted a World Series game, and has only been home to two playoff teams in its twenty-year history, but is still a fun place to enjoy a ballgame.

1. Coors Field (Denver, CO)

Coors Field, home of my beloved Rockies, has truly set the standard for me as to what the ideal ballpark experience should be like.  Aside from one game in the old Mile High Stadium when I was six years old, Coors Field was the first major league park I ever visited, and the other nine ballparks I’ve visited (some newer, some with more tradition, some with more features to keep fans entertained) simply have failed to top the experience of watching a ballgame at Coors Field.  The ballpark is located in the heart of downtown Denver on 20th and Blake Street, surrounded by bars, restaurants and entertainment as far as the eye can see.  $15 will buy you a spot in a parking lot just a five-minute stroll from the home-plate gate.  And once inside the ballpark, nothing can get me ready for baseball like the PA announcer’s booming voice proclaiming, “This is Coors Field—home of the Colorado Rockies!”

The Rockies have struggled as a franchise for many years.  Outside of a strike-shortened 1995 season, the second half of September 2007 and a few months of the 2009 season, the team has been mediocre at best.  And without a rich, tradition-filled history, it can sometimes be tough to get people excited at the ballpark, especially when the home team falls behind early.  Not so at Coors Field.  From the Blake Street Bombers era of 1995 (which saw the Rockies routinely pound out double-digit runs and cobble together game-winning rallies in the late innings) to the more mainstream brand of baseball today, the game is simply never over at Coors Field.  Fans know this too, and it’s why you won’t see anyone head for the exits trying to beat the Denver traffic with the Rockies down three in the bottom of the ninth.  It is this element of Coors Field that I like most of all—the fact that, humidor or no, Rockies fans have simply been trained never to give up on their team, and they enthusiastically support the hometown nine until the final out is recorded–or, in more cases than rival NL West teams would care to count, not recorded.

Coors Field certainly isn’t the newest ballpark I’ve ever visited.  It doesn’t have the best concession-stand food, nicest bathrooms or most comfortable seats.  And it definitely doesn’t sport an array of pennants along the outfield wall marking World Series titles of long ago.  But there is simply nothing like the experience of watching a game at Coors Field.  So come on out to the ballpark with us—and let’s go Rockies.

Around the League: Colby Rasmus, Jim Thome, Adam Dunn and Aramis Ramirez

  • Mevs over at Diamond Hoggers offers a suggestion on how to spice up the All-Star Game and its other side-stage events: The Pitcher Home Run Derby.  So, who would win? I also applaud Mevs on the inclusion of Mike Hampton’s 1992 Bowman rookie card. That may be the most awkward card series of all time. See for yourself.
  • One of my favorite baseball bloggers, The Flagrant Fan urges the Cardinals to trade Colby Rasmus, and believes that a change of scenery would do the 24-year-old some good.  Over at FanGraphs, though, Steve Slowinski explains why the Cardinals will not be able to trade him. It’s important to note that both articles were written before Colby’s dad burst back on the scene.
  • Jim Thome is four home runs shy of becoming the eighth player in baseball history to reach the 600 home run milestone…and nobody seems to be talking about it.  Considering that Thome has NEVER been linked to any sort of PED use, and is perennially regarded as one of the best dudes in all of baseball, why aren’t people talking about this? Perhaps it’s because three of its current members were known steroid users (and flagrant liars). Babes Love Baseball is dead on when they argue that Thome’s 600th longball is both imminent and a huge deal.
  • With Adam Dunn as well as the majority of the White Sox offense still struggling mightily, Jim Margalus (my favorite White Sox blogger) of South Side Sox lays out several potential trades that Kenny Williams could swing as the trade deadline rapidly approaches.
  • Speaking of the ever-frustrating Dunn, our friend MTD from Off-Base Percentage airs his frustrations over Ozzie Guillen’s reluctance to bench the big man.  Apparently Ozzie will only sit Dunn if he’s not helping the ball club, which seems pretty ridiculous if you ask me.  There’s no way he is helping the team by turning in an 0-for performance every night which includes at least two strikeouts and three or four runners left on base.
  • One of the most frequently mentioned names in trade discussions has been Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who, in the face of a deal that would send him to the Angels, recently stated that he would veto any trade.  With 10-to-5 rights, Ramirez can only be traded if he gives it a thumbs up.  If he’s traded, his potential suitor will be forced to pick up his massive $16 million option for 2012, which seems like nothing given how much the Halos spent on Vernon Wells this offseason.  It comes down to this: Is Aramis Ramirez content with losing, or does he want to play for a contender? Foul Balls weighs in on the issue…
  • MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Tigers designated third baseman/super utility man Brandon Inge for assignment on Wednesday after acquiring Wilson Betemit from the Royals.  Even though he was never a star player, I’ve always had a soft spot for Inge.  No, it’s definitely not because he loaded up with a bunch of lame tattoos over the last few seasons. Rather, it’s because he’s an absolutely freak across the athletic board.  At 5-foot-11, 190-pounds, here is a summary of Inge’s sheer athleticism: can drive a golf ball 400+ yards; can dunk a basketball; MLB All-Star (that’s the obvious one); and he can kick (at least) a 50-yard field goal. Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to Laura Downhour’s original article which highlights the team-less infielders abilities. Oh yeah, dude also told a terminally ill kid that he’d hit a home run for him in a game….and did.