Through the first 50 games this season, Angels left fielders combined to bat .190 (29th in the majors) with a .252 on-base percentage (28th) and a .328 slugging percentage (.23rd).
Those numbers were buoyed by Howie Kendrick's eight starts in left. But Kendrick has missed the past six games with a hamstring injury and the Angels' season-opening left fielder, Vernon Wells, is on the disabled list with a groin injury.
The Angels do have an intriguing potential solution to their left field problem -- Mike Trout. The dynamic 19-year-old is one of the top-ranked prospects in baseball and is batting .306 for Class AA Arkansas with six home runs, 17 RBI, 28 runs and nine stolen bases in 40 games.
"That's a huge risk to take with a player with his upside," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of potentially promoting Trout. "He's made an incredible amount of progress, and maybe in a month, this would be a different conversation. But right now, there is some growth that is needed before he's ready for the major leagues."
Promoting Trout now to fill a short-term need could also be costly for the Angels in the long run. It would start Trout's major league service "clock" and potentially make him eligible for free agency at age 25.
Trout is getting his first taste of Class AA competition this year. He was a non-roster invitee in the Angels' spring training camp, a sign of just how quickly the organization thinks he might develop. His advanced skills are evident in a .411 on-base percentage and 24 walks with only 29 strikeouts in 147 at-bats.
"The jump from low Class A to Double-A is the toughest jump in baseball outside of the one from Triple-A to the big leagues," Scioscia said. "He's making adjustments, and I hope they continue. Right now, he's not an option, but we're excited about his progress."
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