Go Beyond the Stats With Los Angeles Angels Star Mike Trout

Written By: Tonya M. Huffman
Photographed By: Michael Wesley Mike Trout

Mike Trout‘s last name may be the same as that of a gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate, but when it comes to baseball, he’s no fish out of water. As Trout’s father was a former professional minor league slugger, naturally, it was in Trout’s genes to one day grace the baseball diamond. With Trout honing his skills at an early age, practice did indeed perfect and sculpt him to be the player he is today, and is steadily becoming.

The major league world was ecstatic to catch this Trout when he entered the pros in 2009. But before he got caught by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team, during his days of youth, he fished around on smaller home plates to find his place in baseball and cultivate his craft.

Following in his father’s footsteps, as a child growing up in New Jersey, Trout first shagged fly balls with Millville Senior High School students and served as the baseball team’s bat boy. Eventually, he began playing Little League Baseball where it was discovered that he was years ahead of his youth-league teammates in terms of skill and demeanor. This lead him to play an array of positions on the baseball field. If he wasn’t burning fastballs over the plate, he was stationed at shortstop, and in honor of his favorite player, Derek Jeter, he wore jersey number two. Trout had a role model and in turn, is happy to be a role model to others. “Growing up, I wanted to be like Derek Jeter. Now, as kids look up to me in the way I play the game, the way I respect the game, it makes you feel good,” he said. “If you’re a kid, having somebody look up to you and knowing that you can come out of Millville—come out of South Jersey, New Jersey in general—puts good positive vibes in a kid’s head. You know, if I can do it, anybody could do it.”

Trout went on to play travel ball with Tri-State Arsenal, one of the premier programs in the Northeast at age 14. Under his father’s tutelage, Trout developed sharp instincts and solid skills that he later displayed at Millville Senior High School as an athlete who’s versatility shined as he played basketball, football and baseball. His blinding speed caught everyone’s eye. As a senior, Trout hit 18 home runs, a New Jersey high school record.

Throughout his high school campaign, Trout earned two letters in basketball and three in baseball. Upon graduating in 2009, the school decided to reward Trout’s jersey number to the baseball’s team captain, beginning in 2012. Trout was happy and humbled to have represented his school well enough as a student athlete that his jersey number would be of importance. “High school is home for me, and I was tremendously honored by the gesture. I had a blast during my time there, and I’m still close with a lot of my teammates and coaches,” said Trout.

When it came to deciding his future after high school, both colleges and professional baseball scouts alike wanted to catch him as a recruit. Initially, prior to the 2009 MLB Draft, Trout took an offer from East Carolina University, committing to play baseball at the collegiate level. But Greg Morhardt, former Los Angeles Angels’ East Coast scout who played in the minor leagues with Trout’s father, had his eye on the young recruit. He was grateful when he was drafted by the Angels 25th overall in the draft. “It was pretty cool to be in a MLB Network studio and considered to be a top draft pick out of high school. I wasn’t really concerned where I went, I was just thrilled to be drafted by a big league club,” said Trout.

But first he had to make a pit stop. His minor league resume spans a total of four teams, and he showed out. He was the youngest recipient in the history of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award at age 19 and was named the Minor League Player of the Year back to back in 2010 and 2011, rightfully becoming the Angel’s top prospect.  Then, the call you wait for your entire career happens, a call to play with the big boys. “When this happened, I called my parents. We had a special moment when I told them. I can’t explain the surreal feel. It really was a true realization of a boyhood dream to play in MLB,” said Trout. After the majors caught Trout, his talent became larger than life.

Throughout the 2012 season, he smashed home runs, stole bases in bunches and made highlight-reel plays in the outfield. He robbed people of home runs with his agility and speed to make leaping catches. In fact, in May and June, he scored runs and reached bases more than anyone in the league. He also appeared in his first American League All-Star Game during his rookie season. He received the Jackie Robinson Award, the Heart and Hustle Award, took home the Silver Slugger Award and won a Fielding Bible Award. “I have so much respect for this game and want to do things the right way,” said Trout. “Anything else that comes my way is just a bonus. I am honored to even be mentioned.” In spite of earning wonderful accolades, Trout focuses on the outcome of playing professional baseball and where it could potentially lead. “It’s great to get individual honors, but I play the game to win. Basically its playoffs or bust,” said Trout, envisioning his future.

He has true qualities that engender his comparisons to MLB greats, but as a young slugger who is still growing and developing his game, he continues to rack up stats and accolades. He himself is a prospective legend, yet flattered to hold a candle to legendary players like major leaguer Bryce Harper or speedsters Rickey Henderson, Mickey Mantle and Kirby Puckett. “To be mentioned in the same breath as such legends is an amazing, humbling feeling. It is a tremendous honor,” he said. Being a legend in progress also lends itself to earning monikers. In reference to retired Angel Tim Salmon, Trout has been called “Prince Fish,” “God’s Gift” and “King Fish 2.0.” And with attending Millville Senior High School, coupled with his swiftness, he later adopted the nickname Millville Meteor.

During the 2014-2017 MLB seasons, Trout continued playing up to par, earned more accolades and appeared in more All-Star Games. Some of these years even afforded him Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors. “I am flattered and humbled to be able to accomplish so much early in my career. I work hard at getting better, and I take pride in that. Accolades come if you work hard,” he said. Trout says he’s happy to play for the Los Angeles Angels, and as a professional, there are some goals he hopes to preserve and others he hopes to accomplish. “The Angels have been a great organization and everything has worked out. I always want to improve, keep learning, keep interacting with fans and playing the game the right way. This is the way I was brought up by my parents,” then he added, “Oh, did I mention win the World Series? We want to accomplish this goal above all.”

Trout is not only an MVP on the field, but he is also honored to be an MVP off the baseball diamond, namely a “Most Valued Philanthropist.” By autographing memorabilia for charity events, making some child’s day by posing for a selfie, or agreeing to grace a sick or terminally ill patient with his presence, his philanthropy efforts are salient. Trout is an active participant in the Angels Baseball Foundation’s monthly visits to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County and is the new ambassador of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County. In 2014 when Trout was a Players Choice Award winner, he divided his $20,000 grant between two foundations. One day he hopes to start a foundation of his own. “You have to give back. In addition, I have been able to give back to the high school I attended and was proud to do that for sure. Fans are what keep the game going. I love to be involved in the community whenever I can.”

Maybe there’s something in the water, but people love Trout. With all his noteworthy accolades so early in his career matched with his passion for philanthropy, we know Trout will be in the league a long time and we can’t wait to watch; truthfully, we all want to be like Mike.

Like Father, Like Son: Mike Trout’s dad, Jeff, played four years in the minor league for the Minnesota Twins organization.

Life Size: On July 24, 2015, the Los Angeles Angels unveiled a life-size bobblehead of Trout to honor his MVP Award. See it at Terrace Level near sections 221 at Angel Stadium.

Get in On the Action: For schedules, stats and to see Trout take the field in person, head over to www.angels.com!

Love Birds: Mike married his high school sweetheart, Jessica Cox, in New Jersey on Dec. 9, 2017.

Mike Trout

Los Angeles Angels

Angel Stadium
2000 E Gene Autry Way
Anaheim, CA 92806
714.940.2000

Photoshoot Location:
Tempe Diablo Stadium
2200 W Alameda Dr
Tempe, AZ 85282
480.350.5205

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