Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SPORTS >> Travelers hook Trout for starters

Leader sports editor

Arkansas Travelers manager Bill Mosiello is getting the player he wanted.

If he can get the number of victories he wants, it should be a delightful year at Dickey-Stephens Park.

The competitive Mosiello was only half-joking when, during the Travelers’ hot-stove reception in February, he said he wanted to win all 140 games. But Mosiello was serious when he said he wanted Los Angeles Angels No. 1 prospect Mike Trout.

And as Angels spring training winds to a close, the club has committed to starting Trout at Arkansas.

The outfielder, rated MLB.com’s top prospect, was Los Angeles’ No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft and split his first full professional season between Class A Cedar Rapids, of the Midwest League, and Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, of the California League.

Trout, a Vineland, N.J., native, hit a combined .341 with 10 home runs, 58 RBI and 56 stolen bases. Trout participated in the minor league Futures Game during Major League All-Star week and was Midwest League all-star, most valuable player and prospect of the year.

Mosiello managed Cedar Rapids last season and takes over the Travelers after four years under Bobby Magallanes.

Mosiello said in February he anticipated Trout either starting the year at Arkansas or earning a promotion sometime during the season. He said Trout was one of his former players who he would lobby hard to get.

While confirming to Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Shaikin that Trout would make his Class AA debut with the Travs, Los Angeles general manager Tony Reagins said he thought it was “unlikely” Trout would be called up to the Angels this season, the Travelers reported on their website.

That doesn’t mean Trout, who hit 192 in 14 games with the big league club this spring, won’t earn a promotion to Class AAA Salt Lake if he puts in a good half-season at Arkansas.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com he wouldn’t be surprised if Trout, one of 25 non-roster players the Angels invited to big league spring training, earned a promotion, maybe even to the parent club.

“At some point, if you project where Mike’s going to be, I’d be surprised if he’s not on our depth chart at some time late in the year,” Scioscia said. “I’m not saying he’s going to get called up. He’s obviously opened up a lot of eyes. When he’s ready he’ll get an opportunity.”

Arkansas opens the season at Midland on April 7. Trout and the Travelers are expected to work out at Dickey-Stephens Park either April 5 or April 6 before boarding the bus to travel to play the RockHounds.

Arkansas plays three games at Midland and three at Frisco, then has an off day April 13.

The Travelers will play their home opener against Midland on April 14 at 7:10 p.m. at Dickey-Stephens Park.

Mosiello was 160-116 the past two seasons at Cedar Rapids and has a 357-274 minor-league record overall. He has also coached collegiately at Cal State-Fullerton, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Southern California and Auburn.

The Angels retained Francisco Matos as Travelers hitting coach while former Traveler Brandon Emanuel will serve as pitching coach, replacing Ken Patterson, who spent five years overall with Arkansas including the past four.