Angels promote top prospect Mike Trout for debut

Mike Trout is getting a sneak preview of the majors this

weekend, and the Los Angeles Angels are getting a tantalizing early

look at the teenager who’s considered the best prospect in

baseball.

The Angels abruptly promoted their prized outfielder from

Double-A Arkansas on Friday, putting him in the lineup against the

Seattle Mariners for his major league debut.

Although the 19-year-old isn’t expected to stay in the big

leagues beyond the weekend, the Angels couldn’t wait any longer to

see Trout patrolling center field. When starter Peter Bourjos

strained his right hamstring Thursday, Los Angeles decided to make

the long-anticipated move.

”I don’t know if we anticipate this being all that long, but

this is a good opportunity (for Trout) to see what that monster of

the big leagues is all about,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

”I think it will be a great experience for Mike. He wants to

contribute. He wants to win. He’s driven. He’s ready on the

defensive side, and whatever he can contribute on the offensive

side, we’ll take it.”

Trout, a speedy outfielder from Millville, N.J., is considered

the top prospect in baseball in several recent rankings. After

earning the Midwest League’s MVP award last season, he has excelled

for Arkansas in the Texas League this season, batting .324 with 32

extra-base hits and 28 stolen bases.

Trout is the youngest player on a major league roster and the

youngest player to debut with the Angels since 19-year-old Andy

Hassler came up on May 30, 1971.

Trout was scheduled to play in the All-Star Futures Game in

Phoenix on Sunday. Instead, he might be facing Cy Young winner

Felix Hernandez in the Angels’ final game before the All-Star

break.

”There’s always going to be pressure,” Trout said at Angel

Stadium on Friday, shortly after picking up his No. 27 jersey.

”Once you get on the field, it’s just a game. Tonight is going to

be a thrill, and I can’t wait.”

Trout is the youngest player to debut in the majors since the

19-year-old Hernandez broke in with the Mariners in 2005.

Although Trout has torn through the low minors over the past two

years, the 2009 first-round pick was shocked to get a

middle-of-the-night call from Angels general manager Tony Reagins

ordering him out to the West Coast.

”I got chills,” Trout said with a grin.

Bourjos was injured while rounding second base on an

eighth-inning RBI double against the Mariners on Thursday. He

shares remarkable similarities with Trout, including superior speed

and phenomenal outfield defense, but Scioscia insists the starting

job in center field still belongs to Bourjos when he returns.

The Angels don’t expect they’ll be forced to choose between the

two prospects for quite a while – although Scioscia acknowledges

Trout could make it tough on them.

”This is a short sample,” Scioscia said of Trout’s long

weekend in Anaheim. ”He’s only here for a finite amount of time. I

don’t know if we’re going to find out anything on the offensive

side, but what we saw on the defensive side in spring training was

very exciting. We saw a guy that’s ready to play center field in

the major leagues, and we’ll see what happens on the offensive

side.”

Although Bourjos isn’t ruled out for the weekend, Scioscia said

he’ll probably rest Bourjos until the Angels return from the break

next weekend. An MRI on Bourjos’ leg revealed no tears or serious

damage.

”It is Peter’s job when he comes back,” Scioscia said. ”He’s

been playing better defensive center field than anybody in the

league. We want Peter back in that lineup.”

The Angels sent fifth starter Tyler Chatwood back down to

Triple-A Salt Lake, where he’ll start next Thursday. Los Angeles

won’t need a fifth starter again until July 19.