Angels' Conger, Trout shine in Futures Game
Hank Conger put his head down and ran, just the way his father had taught him. No gesturing, no taunting, just play ball.
But this was his first home run in his neighborhood big-league ballpark, and his father was there to see it.
"I tried to give him a little point," Conger said. "I was trying to keep a straight face, but rounding third, I had to break out into a big smile."
Conger was selected the most valuable player of Sunday's Futures Game, hitting a three-run home run to lead the top U.S. prospects to a 9-1 victory over the top international prospects.
Conger, the Angels' top catching prospect, grew up in Huntington Beach. He had to correct an ESPN interviewer who asked whether that was about an hour from Angel Stadium.
"Fifteen minutes," he said.
He is playing at triple-A Salt Lake, so he could join the Angels in September. Until he makes his major league debut, Sunday will do pretty nicely, with his first home run at Angel Stadium.
"This, to be honest, does not feel real," Conger said. "It's just so much adrenaline. It's an unbelievable feeling. I'll never forget this in my life."
The U.S. team dressed in the Angels' clubhouse. Conger was assigned the locker usually occupied by Torii Hunter.
"I don't want to ruin the carpet or anything," Conger joked.
Outfielder Mike Trout, perhaps the hottest prospect in the minor leagues, received a loud round of applause from Angels fans aware he is not just a nice Class A player.
"It just gave me chills," Trout said. "I just wanted to put on a show."
Trout is the cover boy on the latest issue of Baseball America, and an ESPN analyst this week ranked him as the second-best prospect in the minors. He showed off his blazing speed Sunday, beating out one infield grounder for a single, forcing two errors on grounders for which he could have been credited with hits, and legging what appeared to be a routine single into right-center field into a double.
"Every time I hit a ball in any gap, I'm thinking two," Trout said.
Trout, 18, selected in the first round of last year's draft, batted .362 in 81 games at Cedar Rapids, with a .454 on-base percentage and 45 stolen bases. After the Futures Game, the Angels officially promoted him to Rancho Cucamonga.
-- Bill Shaikin