SECAUCUS, N.J. — Mike Trout sat there in a makeshift dugout fidgeting between his mother and father, leaning forward, leaning back, his hands interlocked, trying to put his most placid face on for the MLB Network Studio 42 cameras. What they didn’t catch were Trout’s feet pounding rapidly up and down, as the studio occasionally carried the ambiance of a church, with all the hushed whispers as to who was going where in MLB’s first-year player draft Tuesday night.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Millville (N.J.) High School senior centerfielder’s patience was tested waiting there under the glare of the klieg lights for his name to be called. The four-minute intervals between each team’s selections might have seemed like four eternities to him.
Then finally, when his name was called, it was almost anticlimactic when Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig called Trout’s name with the No. 25 overall pick to the Los Angeles Angels.
“It was nerve-wracking,” admitted Trout, after shaking hands with Selig. “I knew the Angels were going to pick me, I got a text two minutes [between picks] and my adviser told me that they would pick me. I couldn’t get any sleep last night before this. I was up all night playing PlayStation. Me and my family had dinner a few weeks ago with [Angels scout] Eddie Bane and said they really liked me. But the waiting wasn’t easy, my feet were going a mile a minute there.”
Trout graduates Millville on June 16 and he said his parents will probably sign his contract then (since Trout doesn’t turn 18 until August 7). But he’s ready for minor league life.
“That’s a challenge that I’ll be ready for, as soon as I sign, I’m ready to go,” Trout said. “This is something that I’ve always worked for, and something that I’ve always wanted. I’m ready for it.”
San Diego State pitching prodigy Stephen Strasburg went first, as expected, to the Washington Nationals, and North Carolina’s Dustin Ackley went second, as many expected, to the Seattle Mariners. Donavan Tate, from Cartersville High School (Ga.), wound up being the first high school player taken, going third overall to the San Diego Padres.
There were four high school players taken in the first 10 selections: Norco’s (Calif.) Matt Hobgood by Baltimore Orioles at No. 5; East Paulding’s (Ga.) Zach Wheeler by San Francisco at No. 6; and Westminster’s (Mo.) Jacob Turner by Detroit at No. 9 were the other three.
Of the first 10 high school players selected, seven were pitchers (righties Hobgood, Wheeler, Turner, and Shelby Miller of Brownwood, Texas), and lefties Tyler Matzek (Capistrano Valley, Calif.), Matt Purke (Klein, Texas) and Chad James (Yukon, Okla.). As the names came rolling out from Selig, Trout, the only player there live at MLB’s Studio 42 waited … and waited … and waited.
Then Selig called out the No. 25 pick … and Trout immediately hugged his mother and father.
“The waiting was probably the toughest part,” Trout said. “I had to calm down my parents, I think they were more nervous than I was. But right now, it’s all a relief.”
Jeff Trout, Mike’s father, was still shaking, as he adjusted his tie, “Geez, I was going through it,” said Jeff, who played in the Minnesota Twins system for current Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel. “We couldn’t be more pleased. The Angels are a solid, winning organization and the reason why they pick late every year is because they’re in the playoffs."
Trout, who hit a South Jersey-record 18 homers this past season finished his senior year batting .531 with 45 RBI and 49 runs scored, was projected to be a first-round draft pick in the MLB first-year player amateur draft.
He had already committed to East Carolina on a baseball scholarship, and he’s defined as a five-tool player. He’s been contacted by all 30 Major League teams and 27 team representatives have visited his Millville home. He’ll be represented by Craig Landis, whose clients include Major Leaguers Aaron Rowand and Brett Myers.
Just before the Trouts left for a party celebrating his selection back in Millville, Trout, wearing an Angels cap with an Angels jersey in his hands, made the rounds throughout Studio 42, shaking hands with greats like Al Kaline, taking pictures with people he never met before and signing autographs.
“There’s nothing like it,” Trout said. “It’s what I dreamed about my whole life. There’s not a better feeling in the world.”
Joseph Santoliquito covers high school sports for the Philadelphia Daily News and is a frequent contributor to MaxPreps.com.