Angels prospects help lift U.S. squad
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Mike Trout stole a glance up at the scoreboard and gazed around the stands, taking in the scene at the very ballpark where he soon hopes to play. As a regular major leaguer, that is.
At 18, Trout was the youngest player in the All-Star Futures Game -- and he certainly made an impact in the United States getting back into the win column.
Fellow Los Angeles Angels up-and-comer Hank Conger hit a three-run homer to earn MVP honors, Trout doubled and singled and the U.S. squad snapped a three-year losing streak with a 9-1 victory over the World squad Sunday.
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"About the third inning I looked up, amazed it's really happening," Trout said. "I felt comfortable out there. I was seeing the ball well."
Eric Hosmer doubled among his four hits and drove in two runs for the U.S. team in a game showcasing top prospects from all of baseball's minor leagues -- featuring 50 players representing 10 countries.
The World team committed four errors, twice allowing Trout to reach base. Trout hustled for a double in the eighth, showing off some speed that could have him playing at Angel Stadium in a few years.
Trout received a warm greeting from the hometown crowd when he stepped into the batter's box in the third. He is hitting .362 for the Angels' Class A affiliate in Cedar Rapids.
Trout reached on an error, then was quickly caught stealing. He wound up scoring twice.
Conger's clout off Henderson Alvarez provided the highlight in an exhibition event that gives most of these young men their first exposure to playing on the big stage in a major league ballpark.
After stepping on home plate following the homer, Trout and Hosmer formed a Conger line to greet the Angels' Triple-A catcher.
"For me just thinking about trying to play here as a home team is a dream I try to keep chasing each and every day," said Conger, who only found out he was on the team about a week ago. "It was a great game and a great experience."
Desmond Jennings added an RBI single and scored three runs and Austin Romine doubled in a run for the U.S.
Players signed autographs and posed for pictures before eagerly taking the field.
Double-A Los Angeles Dodgers standout Dee Gordon scurried to catch Alex Liddi's foul popup in front of the U.S. dugout to start the fourth and nearly tripped doing so. Nice play nonetheless.
Others were a tad nervous for the chance to display their talent for scores of scouts on their own teams and others. A giant star was mowed into the center-field grass at Angel Stadium two days ahead of the real show: the All-Star Game.
U.S. manager Don Baylor and World coach Tony Franklin took time to remind the players the field dimensions are the same and they wouldn't need to change a thing.
Baylor was committed to keeping his promise to get all 25 players on the roster into the game -- and he did so. Right-hander Tanner Scheppers of the Texas Rangers organization entered with one out in the ninth to seal the deal -- hitting 101 mph on the radar gun with a pitch.
World manager Cookie Rojas also used his entire roster.
"Their moms and dads tune in, their grandmas and grandpas," said Baylor, the Colorado Rockies' hitting coach. "It's not like our major league All-Star Game. You want these kids to come in and have fun playing. You tell them: 'There are no changes you have to make ... just show your talent, just relax. Adrenalin's going to take over.' "
"Have fun, enjoy it because it's probably you're first experience in a major league setting that you'll enjoy for the next 15 years," said Franklin, manager of the New York Yankees' Double-A Trenton club. "There will probably be some butterflies flying."
The World team had won the past three Futures Games, becoming the first squad to do so in the event's history. This marked the 12th year Major League Baseball has showed off its rising stars during All-Star week.
The U.S. team was motivated to end the skid.
"No doubt about it," Baylor said. "We were all aware of it, quietly."
Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A right fielder Domonic Brown, who started and batted cleanup for the United States, left after his first-inning RBI single with tightness in his right hamstring.
U.S. third baseman Mike Moustakas, at Double-A in the Kansas City Royals organization, nearly turned a pretty double play in the second when he lunged to his right and made a backhanded stop of a sharp grounder by Wilin Rosario. The World's lone run scored on the play.
World center fielder Gorkys Hernandez, at Double-A with the Pittsburgh Pirates, played in his third straight Futures Game. He's ready to take the next step.
"It's pretty hard," he said. "You have to be in the moment here and when you leave mentally prepare to go to the big leagues. You never know when you'll get your chance."
NotesSpain's 1-0 victory over the Netherlands in the World Cup final was shown on the two big screens at Angel Stadium. ... Several stars from last year's Futures Game in St. Louis are now in the majors, including Jason Heyward, Neftali Feliz and Carlos Santana. ... Before the game, teams held spring training-like drills such as outfield fielding practice -- something rarely done in the majors these days.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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JULY 12, 2010: FUTURES GAME
The U.S. team, led by a three-run home run from MVP Hank Conger, thumped the World team 9-1 to end a three-game skid in the Futures Game. Recap