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Trout garners J.G. Taylor Spink Award

Trout garners J.G. Taylor Spink Award

Mike Trout's dream season peaked on Monday with his selection as the recipient of the 51st annual J.G. Taylor Spink Award as the Topps/Minor League Player of the Year.

A five-tool outfielder with blinding speed, developing power and a Pete Rose-like passion for the game, Trout, a first-round pick by the Angels in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is the youngest player to win the award at 19 years, two months.

Andruw Jones was 19 years, six months old when he was named Topps/Minor League Player of the Year in 1996.

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Of more recent vintage, the Giants' brilliant young catcher, Buster Posey, was the 2009 winner of the award. Posey, enriched by college experience at Florida State, made a swift rise to the big time, helping transform San Francisco this season with his offense and defense.

Trout, blessed with the frame of a running back at 6-foot-1, 217 pounds, has the ability to be a big-time player for years to come, the Angels believe. He batted a combined .341 this season with Class A affiliates Cedar Rapids and Rancho Cucamonga. He's expected to open next season at Double-A Arkansas.

"Mike Trout has tremendous upside," Scioscia said. "He can really run, and he can do a lot of things on the field, offensively and defensively. Obviously, we're extremely high on him. He's an exciting player with a tremendous attitude."

Drafted out of Millville (N.J.) Senior High School with the 25th overall pick, Trout opened the 2010 season with Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League, hitting .362 with six homers and 39 RBIs, before being promoted to the advanced Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes.

The promotion came after Trout introduced himself to the broader baseball public with a spectacular showing in the All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium preceding the Major League All-Star Game in July. He went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored in a 9-1 win by the U.S. over the World team.

A three-sport high school star, Trout displayed his explosive speed on the bases and in center field against the premium prospects in the sport in his future home stadium. He ran down fly balls in both gaps, and busting out of the batter's box, twice forced errors on sharply struck grounders to shortstop and third base before beating out an infield hit to shortstop and slamming a double to right-center.

"I asked him this spring what he's thinking when he hits a ball in a gap," Scioscia said. "He told me he's thinking triple all the way. This guy has really unbelievable speed. He's right there with Peter [Bourjos], which is saying something."

Bourjos, who might be as fast as any player in baseball, moved nine-time Rawlings Gold Glover Torii Hunter to right field with his arrival in August.

"We haven't raced each other," Bourjos said. "I don't know how that would come out, but it would be interesting. Mike can really run."

Hunter is fully aware of Bourjos' talents and has caught glimpses of Trout when he appeared in some Cactus League games, cracking a double and triple to each gap in his first three-at bats.

"These kids, Bourjos and Trout, can fly," Hunter said. "I look at them, and I'm like, 'Wow.' They can cover some ground, man. And they're great kids. They want to learn and be great players. The Angels really have something for the future."

After his midseason promotion, Trout hit .306 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 50 games with the Quakes. He stole 45 bases in 81 games with Cedar Rapids and 11 with the Quakes, his 56 total steals leaving him tied for fifth best in Minor League Baseball.

Trout, named the Midwest League MVP and its Prospect of the Year, joins a group of former Spink winners that features Posey (2009), Josh Beckett (2001) and Derek Jeter (1994).

The best performances in all classifications of Minor League Baseball again this year are being honored by the Topps Company of New York, N.Y., in conjunction with Minor League Baseball.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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