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Prospect Trout embracing Angels' system

Prospect Trout embracing Angels' system

As the lone player who came to the First-Year Player Draft broadcast in June, Angels first-round pick Mike Trout knows he's going to be a kind of unofficial spokesman about attending in person. And he's just fine with giving it a ringing endorsement.

"It was a great overall experience going to the Draft," said Trout from Arizona, where he is taking part in the Angels' Instructional League program. "I think about it. We think about [what's happened over the summer] a lot. It's all in the past now and I'm just trying my hardest to get to the big leagues."

The "we" is Trout and fellow first-rounder Randal Grichuk, taken one spot ahead at No. 24 overall. The pair were roommates during their summer debut in the rookie-level Arizona League and are with each other once again for instructs.

The pair had some serious success during their debuts and were considered to be among the top prospects in the short-season circuit. Grichuk hit .322 with a .551 slugging percentage and 53 RBIs. Trout hit .360, second in the league, had a .418 on-base percentage and a .925 OPS. He even got the chance to move up for a taste of full-season Cedar Rapids, his likely home next year, and was on the Midwest League club's postseason roster. With those kinds of numbers, he's got it all figured out, right? Not quite yet, but it certainly was a great way to kick things off.

"He had a tremendous season in the rookie league," Angels farm director Abe Flores said. "He's working on his low half on his swing, forming a better base. He tends to float through the zone with his low half. He's continuing to work on his baserunning to tap into his speed. Also, he's cleaning up his throwing mechanics to enhance his arm."

Trout agrees that at times during the summer, his swing became all arms, so he's trying to learn how to drive the ball with his legs. He's working on getting more carry on his throws from the outfield. And while he went 13-for-15 in stolen-base attempts, the New Jersey native is hoping that improved techniques will make him even more dangerous on the basepaths. For the most part, it's clicked in well for the 18-year-old, though changing his hitting mechanics have been a little more challenging.

"It's been off and on," Trout admitted. "Sometimes I do it right, sometimes I do it wrong. They get on me. I'm starting to get the hang of it. They're throwing their opinion out there, so far I feel good, and I'm going with it."

In many ways, that's what makes Trout stand out more than other young top picks. Players sometimes enter pro ball reluctant to change, fearing giving up what worked for them in high school. Trout has embraced the Angels' ideas wholeheartedly, trusting that they know more about how to get him ready to move up the ladder more than he does.

"I wouldn't consider Mike to be an overly raw guy," Flores said. "His work ethic, his tenacity -- he's got intangibles that equal his talent. That's what separates him. He's very approachable; he wants to get better. He's a blast to have.

"It doesn't always happen that way, because there's a trust issue and they don't want to risk. It lengthens the learning curve. With him, it's not the case. But he's willing to risk and he's buying into it."

The leap from high school to pro ball, even at the rookie level, can be a little overwhelming. In high school, Trout saw pitchers who, at best, threw in the mid-to-upper 80s. In the Arizona League this summer, he saw a steady diet of arms that were up to 94-98 with much better breaking stuff than he saw consistently in New Jersey. Now he'll get the chance to get some repetitions against that kind of competition with the start of Instructional League play beginning for the Angels on Wednesday in Surprise against the Rangers.

As always, Grichuk will be there right alongside him. That has been nothing but a good thing for Trout... for the most part.

"He's always bragging about having gone one spot ahead of me, at No. 24," Trout joked. "We talk about what we did wrong and what we did right. We're having fun, a blast in Arizona."

Jonathan Mayo 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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