The man in the title lucky enough to escape the parentheses who just so happened to get the call to the big leagues today also just so happens to be my biggest draft miss since I started this site back in 2009. Mike Trout was ranked 74th on my final 2009 MLB Draft big board, behind such luminaries as Todd Glaesmann and Miles Hamblin. Hey, at least I had him ranked ahead of Brooks Raley!
Besides the always super fun attempt at self-depreciation, the reason I bring up my low ranking of Trout is to see if there is something that I can learn from in all of this. My issues with Trout were pretty simple: I didn’t believe in the bat (looked really sluggish through the zone), I didn’t think his speed was on the same level as others (inexcusable considering I saw him play live and in color, but I had him timed as above-average at best), and, most embarrassing, I could never get past the popular at the time, but silly in hindsight Aaron Rowand comp that engulfed my brain. That last point could be an example of why player comps are dangerous and how they often do more harm than good; I’d agree to a certain extent, but feel obligated to stress once again that comps should be used as a starting point alone. True, when I was younger and stupider I often took comps too far; Mike Trout as an Aaron Rowand clone is Exhibit A. Now that I’m older and wiser I can appreciate the way all comps must be used in proper context: I know now to consider a) who is providing the comp and how serious they are about the similarities, b) whether is it a potential outcome, body, tool, or skill comp, and c) what are the major differences between the players being compared (call this fact-checking the veracity of the original comp). I remember telling a buddy that Trout reminded me of a speedier Jay Payton, for what it’s worth. Probably shouldn’t quit my day job anytime soon…
Besides falling behind such stars as Glaesmann and Hamblin, Trout was also behind another player recently recalled to the bigs, Seattle’s Kyle Seager. Seager was my 65th ranked player that year. I won’t argue that Seager will be a better ballplayer than Trout as a big leaguer, but I am just crazy enough to stand by my original pre-draft ranking of the two prospects. I already laid out my wrong-headed assessments of Trout during his high school days. Seager, on the other hand, was a personal favorite from day one. This was written in March of 2009:
Batting stance is reminiscent of Chase Utley’s, but comparing a player not likely to even go in the first round with a top ten big league position player isn’t fair to anybody; instead, Seager reminds me a little bit of a better version of former ASU shortstop and current Phillies prospect Jason Donald – Seager is the better hitter, but Donald had the defensive edge; Seager’s well-rounded game (great plate discipline, slightly above-average power, good baserunner, high contact rate) make him a personal favorite of mine and as good a bet as any college hitter to settle in to a long career as a league average (at least) big leaguer.
If we can ignore the fact that I was comparing every collegiate middle infielder to Jason Donald at the time (pretty sure Grant Green also got the Donald treatment at some point), we still can see that all of his offensive positives from his college days (great plate discipline, slightly above-average power, good baserunner, high contact rate) apply as a professional. I really like Seager, both as a player and a person, and I look forward to watching his career unfold.
As much as I like Seager, his third round draft status keeps him from the following list. These are the first/supplemental first round picks in 2009 that have already reached in the big leagues. My pre-draft ranking is in parentheses: RHP Stephen Strasburg (1st), 2B Dustin Ackley (2nd), RHP Mike Leake (4th), RHP Alex White (6th), RHP Aaron Crow (11th), LHP Mike Minor (18th), LHP Rex Brothers (33rd), LHP Andy Oliver (49th), RHP Drew Storen (51st). Pretty crazy, right? That’s nine out of forty-nine possible players already in the bigs just two short years later.
As a final aside, Washington was rumored by Baseball America to have strongly considered taking either Trout or Wil Myers with the tenth overall pick. Storen has done what has been expected of him so far, but, damn, it is easy to love a Werth-Trout-Harper outfield for the next half decade and beyond.