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Mark Trumbo: Top Angels Prospect #24

24) Mark Trumbo,1/16/1986 (happy birthday!) - 1B/OF, AA

.292/.334/.454 with 15 HR's and 6 SB's. +8 bat, +0 glove.

Ranking in a Nutshell: As far as rankings are concerned, Trumbo might be the most controversial player in the organization. On the one hand, he has the system's best power this side of Brandon Wood, having knocked 35 bombs across High A and AA in 2008 while never K'ing overly much. On the other hand, he rarely walks, he has no real defensive home, his ‘09 first half numbers were abysmal, and sabermetric systems don't like the sum total of his offense, even in good years.  Commentators with close ties to the Angels' player development people still rate him a top minor league bat, while the rest of the prospect community has largely forgotten about him. My take: he handles righties well enough to hit for power and some average in the MLB, but unless by some miracle his outfield defense climbs to average, the bat alone won't be enough to make him a regular.

Track Record: Extensive. The Angels drafted Trumbo out of Villa Park High School (in Orange) in the 18th round of the 2004 draft, luring him away from a strong USC commitment with a startling $1.4 million bonus. At the time, Trumbo was a two-way prospect, hitting the mid 90's off the mound, but the Halos liked the power potential so much they put him in the field. His first two years as a pro were unremarkable: for his age he hit well enough not to draw criticism, but he wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire either. He repeated the Midwest League as a 21 year-old in 2007, did very well considering the challenges of the Kernels' home park, and carried that progress over into his breakout 2008 season.  2009 was a mixed bag: he registered the highest OBP of his career at .333 and hit for outstanding average in the second half; but he also managed only 15 homeruns, disappointing despite the tough home park. Scouts have labeled his first base defense as below average throughout his career, but BA noted some progress entering '09. TotalZone projects him as average to slightly above, crediting him from -2 to +4 runs with the glove as a pro.

Win-the-Lottery-Ceiling: Juan Rivera with less range in the field. That may not be enough to make him a regular for the Angels, but he could be a useful bat off the bench and platoon player on a team where the other corner players swing from the left side.  If his patience takes another step forward, his bat could play at DH. 

Scouting Report: (beneath the jump)

At 6'5", 210, Trumbo is a big guy with a long torso and arms - good "levers," if you will - that he incorporates into a simple, upper-half heavy swing conducive to both power and contact ( see "Trumbo homers" in the video library).  He has a very quiet set-up at the plate, spreading his feet widely to distribute his weight. He has almost no stride, raising his front foot slightly as a he shifts his weight back to load his swing, but the head and hands remain still. His stride forward is minimal - he doesn't need it to build power - and his hands remain back even as the rest of his body shifts forward, lengthening the swing but allowing him to build bat speed and get his arms extended. His pivot is quiet, with his weight distributed evenly across both feet as he brings the bat through the zone. The follow-through incorporates classic loft and extension.

The take-away is that Trumbo does an outstanding job leveraging his upper body strength to generate power, minimizing the number of moving pieces in his lower half that would likely detract from his ability to make consistent contact. It also allows him to wait longer before committing to a pitch, giving him more time to identify pitch type and location. I think his cut will serve him well in the majors.

In a recent interview, Abe Flores labeled Trumbo's performance in his '09 outfield experiment "Ok."  That's alarming coming from a guy whose job it is to play up his employee's accomplishments. Trumbo's arm will play anywhere, certainly, but it remains to be seen whether his range will be sufficient to hold down an outfield corner.

A special thanks to Stephen Smith for publishing the video I linked to above. You can read his take on Trumbo and other top Angels prospects here.