South Jersey Sports Shorts: Hot Trout and Broken Ford
As we continue following the progress of our local baseball talent trying to get the "Big Show", Mike Trout impresses early as he continues to play himself into 100% shape, while Darren Ford suffers a bad break.
The Los Angeles Angels know they have a future star in Trout, a Millville product. The team does not want to rush the 20-year-old, but he is already making an impression at the AAA level - the step just below the majors.
Trout opened the 2012 season by collecting 14 hits in his first 8 games for the Salt Lake Bees - that leads the team.
Trout is 2nd on the team with a .389 batting average, with 1 double, 1 triple, 1 Home Run and 4 Runs Batted In (stats from Baseball America). Mike has been batting in the top spot for the Bees and as Designated Hitter.
Trout's future seems to be a lock in 2013. Current Angel outfielder Torii Hunter has been a huge fan of Trout, even commenting recently about his own future with the Angels by saying that "Trout is lying in the weeds" - creating questions toward the veterans future beyond this year.
Look for Trout to be shagging flies in the field soon, and take another step toward the Angels this season.
Out in Washington state, Ford was supposed to be starting for the Tacoma Rainiers (the team is in the same league as Trout's Salt Lake squad), and potentially earn his way to the Seattle Mariners at some point.
In what seems to be a pivotal season for the 26-yr-old Ford, he has suffered a setback with a broken finger. The Vineland product will spend some time on the disabled list, with no current timetable for his return.
With only 3 outfielders on the current Mariners roster, we hope Ford recovers quickly and can get off a hot start in Tacoma to force Seattle to give him his shot.
Margate product and Holy Spirit High School alum A.J. Holland recently made his 1st start of the 2012 season for the Rome Braves in the South Atlantic League (A-level baseball for the Atlanta organization). Impressing for 6 2/3 innings, the former St. Joe's (Philly) standout gave up only 3 hits and 1 unearned run while striking out 4.
Holland was in the Braves Rookie League in 2011 after signing with Atlanta as a 16th Round draft choice. In his 30 innings of work last year, the now 21-yr-old struck out 40 while walking only 10.
Cape May product Matt Szczur comes into the 2012 season in the Chicago Cubs organization as one of their Top-3 prospects, and is considered one of the Top-75 prospects in all minor league baseball. The former Villanova Wildcat has posted a .303 batting average in his first 2 seasons in the Cubs lower levels of the minors.
Off to a slow start for the Daytona Cubs in A-level baseball, Szczur has only 4 hits in his first 26 at-bats to start 2012. The positive side has seen the Lower Cape May H.S. grad draw 5 walks and steal 3 bases - showing that speed and discipline (along with solid defense in the field) are Matt's calling card for his future.