Mike Trout appears to be in the majors to stay, but today Baseball America named the 20-year-old Angels outfielder their minor league player of the year.
Trout ranked second to Bryce Harper’s on Baseball America‘s preseason prospect ranking and had a spectacular year at Double-A, batting .326 with 11 homers, 42 total extra-base hits, 45 walks, and 33 steals in 91 games despite being a teenager for nearly the entire season. He was the youngest player in the entire Texas League.
Jeremy Hellickson was BA‘s minor league player of the year in 2010 and is now a leading Rookie of the Year candidate for the Rays, throwing 164 innings with a 2.90 ERA that ranks fifth in the AL. Trout figures to exhaust his Rookie of the Year eligibility while playing regularly for the Angels down the stretch, but in terms of long-term upside there are few players in all of baseball who can compete with the 2009 first-round pick.
For a whole lot more on Trout, check out J.J. Cooper’s excellent article.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: