SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Sift through the stats and this one might stand out: Mark Trumbo has yet to hit a home run.
Trumbo ripped 32 home runs this season combined at high Class A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Arkansas, giving the Angels more reasons to think they got a steal in the 2004 draft when they took Trumbo in the 18th round—as a pitcher.
But the power that Trumbo displayed this year has yet to show in the Arizona Fall League. Through 66 at-bats, he has had only four extra-base hits—all doubles.
Not that he is overly worried about it.
“I’ve hit a lot of balls real hard,” said Trumbo, playing first base for the Scottsdale Scorpions. “I’m not going up there to hit a home run. When I do that, that’s when things break down mechanically.”
Trumbo’s assignment here in Arizona is clear: Improve on handling breaking balls against much better pitching than he has ever faced.
It’s no surprise that pitchers challenge him with two-strike breaking balls. Trumbo’s frame—he is a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder—allows for a massive strike zone.
In Arizona, he is hitting .288/.329/.348 with 13 strikeouts and five walks.
“You see the tremendous power in batting practice,” Scottsdale manager Shane Turner said. “The big thing with him is the ability to handle the breaking ball better. And he’s shown adjustments.”
Trumbo acknowledges that it’s a vulnerable area that he must improve if he is to graduate out of Double-A next season.
“(Entering 2008), I wanted to get to the point where pitchers had to mix it up and not always go to the well,” Trumbo said. “And I wanted to hit better with two strikes and hit better for average with good power numbers. I know I improved against breaking balls better and I knew it held me back my first year. I had a real bad first half and it’s hard to dig yourself out.
“It’s nice to see things moving in the right direction.”