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KID DYNAMITE
TOM VERDUCCI
August 27, 2012
Angels teammates, dazzled fans and shell-shocked pitchers already wonder where Mike Trout, all of 21, belongs in the discussion of the game's alltime greats. Front offices in baseball pose a more vexing question: How the hell did we miss this guy?
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August 27, 2012

Kid Dynamite

Angels teammates, dazzled fans and shell-shocked pitchers already wonder where Mike Trout, all of 21, belongs in the discussion of the game's alltime greats. Front offices in baseball pose a more vexing question: How the hell did we miss this guy?

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Mike took $1.215 million, slot money. Says Jeff, "They're eventually going to have to pay for that bargain. But it was never about the money. We were just blessed and thankful he got drafted."

The Angels brought Trout to take batting practice at Angel Stadium against then hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. Trout began launching balls into the rock pile in left center. Hatcher fed him pitches outside, and Trout whacked those into the rightfield seats. "He was hitting balls all over the place," Scioscia says. "That kind of power is so rare for a 17-year-old. You're talking Griffey, Prince Fielder."

Says Bane, "Sometimes, when I can't sleep and it's three o'clock in the morning, I'll get on the Internet and I'll bring up the 2009 draft. I look at it and just go, 'Wow.'"

In the spring of 2011, Trout, who was 19, arrived at the Angels' major league camp. One night a group of nine veterans invited him to join them at a swanky steak house in Scottsdale. Great heaps of food kept coming to the table, as did bottles of fine wine. Trout couldn't believe his great fortune. Only two years earlier he was in high school watching these guys on TV. He had a great time—until pitcher Jered Weaver walked up to him and said, "You're the million-dollar baby. You're going to pay for it."

Mike looked at the bill: $1,800. He excused himself and went to the rest room, where he pulled out his cellphone and made a call.

"Mom? They're going to stick me with an $1,800 bill. Do I have enough money in my account?"

"Mike, what are you talking about? Just use your card."

The next morning, there was a large Tonka dump truck parked in Trout's locker. It was filled with 7,200 quarters.

It is easy to forget how young Trout is. Four of the top nine picks in this year's draft are older than he is. When his Jersey buddies visited him in Anaheim last month, Mike took them to Magic Mountain and to shoot pool. When the Angels were taking early bunting practice one day last month, Trout spent his time between turns in the cage playing ball in the infield with A.J. Pujols, the 11-year-old son of first baseman Albert Pujols.

On their son's birthday, Jeff and Deb surprised him by flying to Oakland to be with him. Well, maybe it wasn't a surprise. Either or both of his parents make it a point to be with him on his birthday. After the last out of every game, often 1 a.m. or later in Millville, Deb will text Mike, something like "Great game" or "Go get 'em tomorrow." The first thing Mike will do after a game is text back, "Thanks. Love you. Call you in a little bit."

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