(AP)As the 25th selection of the 2009 amateur draft, Mike Trout is destined to haunt the dreams of more than a few front offices.
In fact, only four teams — five, if you count the Washington Nationals who selected Stephen Strasburg — will never have to answer questions why they didn't think to reel Mike Trout in from the draft pool.
Among them are the New York Yankees, who held the hope they might have a shot at picking the high school outfielding prospect from southern New Jersey.
(Yankees scouting director Damon) Oppenheimer thought he had a legitimate shot; often high school kids from the Northeast aren't scouted as heavily as those in other areas of the country, and the Yankee scouts noticed that teams didn't seem to be paying much attention to Trout.
"He wasn't one of the popular names that you were always hearing about," Oppenheimer said. "He was a New Jersey kid, a righthanded-hitting outfielder. He wasn't the media-darling kid from Baseball America, so I'm thinking, 'We've got a shot at him."
Oppenheimer tells the News he grew even more hopeful after the Angels selected Randal Grichuk with the 24th pick because what team would select two outfielders with back-to-back picks? But Oppenheimer's dream died as the Angels selected Trout with the very next pick at No. 25. Adding insult to injury was the fact that the Halos first saw Trout during a prospect camp at old Yankee Stadium and only owned the compensation pick at No. 25 because the Yankees had signed Mark Teixeira the winter before. The Yankees ended up picking high school outfielder Slade Heathcott with the No. 29 pick. Heathcott has struggled with injury and has yet to advance past A-ball.
Trout, meanwhile, just spent his weekend picking apart the Yankees pitching and defense, going 7 for 14 with three doubles and four stolen bases. Combined with three games earlier this season, Trout owns a .407/.448/.778 line with one homer and five doubles against the Yankees this season. And perhaps there's more to come for the 20-year-old MVP candidate as the Yankees and Angels could meet in the postseason.
The good news for the Yankees brass is that they'll never face any accusations of passing over one of baseball's next great talents because they can say they were interested in him all along. They just never got the chance to select him.
The bad news is that they'll forever be tormented with asking the questions why the Angels couldn't have been content with only selecting Randal Grichuk.