Mike Trout is having a season for the ages. The kind of season that has baseball fans checking the box score in the newspaper to see what he did the night before, and team executives scratching their heads wondering how they missed on this kid. If you turned on ESPN last year, the only time you would hear the word trout, was during one of those outdoors shows. It’s funny how things change in a year. When you hear the word trout these days, the first thing that comes to mind is a young ballplayer being compared to the likes of Mickey Mantle, not a fish. However, I’m starting to think that it’s unfair to compare this kid to anyone. He really is in a league of his own.
Most Mets fans don’t realize how the 2009 draft could have altered the baseball landscape that we see right now. There were a few teams with a very high interest in Trout as the 2009 MLB draft crept closer. Most teams passed on Trout because, although he was a very gifted athlete, was viewed as a raw talent. They didn’t think he was mechanically sound. That, combined with the fact that amateur players from the northeast still aren’t given the respect of a player from a warm weather state, caused Trout to sort of free fall. Here’s where it gets interesting for Mets fans.
One of the teams that was in a position to take a chance on this “raw” talent, was the Washington Nationals. They held the number one pick, and the number ten pick in the 2009 draft. They took Stephen Strasburg with the number one pick, and with the number ten pick took Drew Storen. Luckily for Mets fans, and the other teams in the National League East, the Nationals passed on Trout. Had they selected Trout at number ten, they would have a foundation of Strasburg, Harper, and Trout to build on. Arguably the three best young talents in the game, all on one team, is a scary notion. The Nationals are kicking themselves right now.
Let’s take a look at the Angels drafting Trout, and it’s implications. This is where it could get painful for Mets fans. Yes Mets fans, we could have drafted Trout. If you recall, we originally were slated to have the number 24 pick in the 2009 draft. Trout went number 25. We gave up our number 24 pick as compensation for signing Fransisco Rodriguez in the winter of 2008. We were Trout-blocked…by ourselves. That compensation pick was what inevitably led to the Angels selecting Trout at number 25.
There is a nice article on Trout in this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated (I highly recommend reading it). Tom Verducci states that building up to the 2009 draft, Trout’s family, who originally agreed to take slot money before the draft, was now looking for more money. They had originally agreed to around $1.2 million, but were now getting offers of close to $3 million. The Angels head scout in the northeast area kept that a secret, knowing that if it became public, the team might have passed on him. He believed he had a future hall of famer at his fingertips, and didn’t want to lose out on Mike Trout. The Angels now had two back to back picks in the first round after the compensation pick from the Mets, so even the Angels brass that weren’t completely sold on Trout, decided to take a shot. The funny thing is, had the Angels passed on Trout at pick 25, the Yankees were waiting with open arms at number 29. Imagine that. The player touted as the next Mickey Mantle in Yankee pinstripes.
Mets fans, we could have had Mike Trout. Mike Trout had so many implications for the Mets, and no Mets fans ever think about it. Aside from possibly getting him with our original number 24 pick in the 2009 draft, the Nationals could have selected him, which would have been a nightmare for Mets fans for years to come. If the Angels passed on him, he could have easily dropped into the lap of the Yankees, our cross town rivals.
It’s funny how things work out. But there is nothing funny about what Mike Trout is doing this year. Mike Trout is a once in a generation player. Mike Trout is a baseball god. And Mets fans are left, once again, wondering about what could have been.