Mike Trout Rides the New Jersey Turnpike All the Way to Anaheim

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Notice something missing from the first year player draft last night? Players! Every big time prospect was invited to attend the MLB Draft last night. High school outfielder Mike Trout out of Millville, NJ was the only one to accept and was eventually showered with praise from the gathered media storm inside the MLB Network studios. After sitting on his hands in the faux dugout of Studio 42 for two hours, Trout was finally selected by the Los Angeles Angels of Angelheim at pick number 25 and became the only player on the night lucky enough to shake hands with an actual vampire.

Immediately after the pick, Harold Reynolds singled Mike out and saluted him for being the only prospect brave enough to show up, despite the fact that many of the amateurs are still actively participating in the College World Series. In his words, when prompted by Victor Rojas for final thoughts from the first round:

"The moment I'll always remember was Mike Trout. That was the moment I'll always remember. The draft is for the kids. They need to be here."

But really, with the MLB Studios just a two hour drive up the New Jersey Turnpike, why is this a surprise? Was MLB footing the bill for prospects to attend the draft, flying in the top guys from all around the country? Doubtful. Maybe Harold Reynolds should personally invite the kids next year and put 'em up in the Royal Motel and take 'em out to the local Boston Market.

Yes, encouraging more players to show up for the draft will improve the drama during the show, but these are mostly high school kids with a non-existent Q-rating. The MLB Draft will never approach the televised excitement of the NBA or NFL amateur drafts only because amateur baseball, unlike college football or college basketball, is not a cash cow in this country. Besides, being drafted in baseball does not automatically thrust a player into the spotlight. It might be years before a drafted player makes it to the bigs, unlike football or basketball without their own minor league systems.

Even the most ardent baseball fans just aren't aware of the young'uns and won't need to be aware for years to come, so throwing the unknowns on cable TV won't necessarily make folks switch away from I Love the 70s on VH1. So kudos to Mike Trout for showing up in Secaucus, but it's going to be a while before we see you again on the telly. If at all.

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I completely agree about MLB draft's star-power deficit. There's also the fact that NBA and NFL drafts occur in the middle of those leagues' offseasons, providing a wellspring of hope and conversation for fans in the middle of those sport's most barren stretches. If the NFL draft took place on the fourth Sunday of the season, would all those mouth-breathing Jets and Eagles fans bother traveling hours just to heckle the pick? No, they'd be too busy heckling the current team. If the MLB wants more hype around the draft, they should switch it to December.

What I don't understand is why MLB and various other people and entities are so hell-bent on making this thing made-for-TV. It likely will always be a fairly esoteric event for casual fans, which is absolutely fine. It's not like they need the draft's popularity to increase in order to save the sport.

Freetzy, the December thing would work well for MLB, but would be a disaster for colleges, and would prevent HS kids from playing their senior years. You make a great point about expectations needing to be based on the draft happening DURING the season, though.

I know there is a Tim Salmon upstream/Mike Trout downstream joke somewhere here . . .



The whole way there Trout kept replaying "Devil in Jersey City"

New Jersey bound

Gorge, I meant to write something about how I thought moving the draft to December would be stupid, unworkable and drastically harm player development. But it would probably slightly improve TV ratings (from zero to microscopic) for a one-time event. Therefore, I see no reason why Bud Selig won't make it happen.

@ Freetzy

Makes perfect sense. In addition, Bud will secure title sponsorship by whatever iteration of Spiderman movie is next to drop.

Having the draft airing opposite actual baseball games is a real drag. Move it to a Thursday night when most teams have either already played an afternoon affair or didn't play at all and make the draft start at 8PM, hopefully after the NBA and NHL playoffs are done.

Also, make sure Jim Bowden isn't tipping the #1 pick.

I think Rinku and Dinesh have taught us that the proper way to bring people into the major leagues is via reality show.

How about do it on the day after the All-Star game? All the execs, players and agents are already in town, and you could even entice all those prospects by inviting them to rub shoulders with current pros. Shit, now I'm giving Bud all my good ideas.

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