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Travs' Grichuk has leg up on Double-A04/04/2013 10:00 AM ET
By Andrew Pentis / Special to MLB.com
Walk 90 feet in his cleats.
Nearly four years ago, the Angels drafted two athletic prep outfielders with the 24th and 25 overall pick -- one from Rosenberg, Texas, named Randal Grichuk and another from Vineland, N.J, who goes by Mike Trout.
In 2012, Trout won the American League Rookie of the Year Award and finished second in MVP voting. Grichuk, for his part, played in more games (135) at the Class A Advanced level than he did over his injury-riddled '10 and '11 campaigns (117) combined.
So when Grichuk was asked -- while he was sharing a dugout with Trout during the Spring Training-finishing Freeway Series in Los Angeles last weekend -- what he aimed to accomplish in 2013, his answer was simple.
"I just really want to put up some numbers, have a good year and see what happens," he said. "I guess you can't really put too many goals on a season at Double-A."
Yes, Grichuk earned his first Major League camp invite in February, and he would prefer to be playing alongside Trout in the outfield, but he's breaking camp and leaving Los Angeles, bound for Arkansas. In fact, he is among eight of the Angels' top 10-ranked prospects who will begin the new season with the Texas League's Travelers.
What have Trout and other Arkansas alumni told Grichuk, who batted .298 with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases at Inland Empire last season, about what to expect in the Southwest? The ball doesn't travel far at Dickey-Stephens Park, and opposing team's scouting reports are more advanced, more likely to find holes in your swing.
To ready himself for the challenge, Grichuk is now using a leg kick in the batter's box.
"I tried mastering that in the offseason," he said. "My hitting coach in the Fall League [Phil Clark] said I had more of a linear swing, so he felt like I'd have more adjustability to the breaking ball or any off-speed pitches with having a more rotational swing. He wanted to implement that for my backside, to get more out of my legs.
"I like it. I'm getting my timing down -- it's hard to do a leg kick. You'll see me off-balance a few times, but I'll get it down."
If and when he does, don't expect him to embody Trout 2.0. Grichuk won't and either will the Angels, who apparently only drafted him ahead of Trout to prank one of their own scouts.
Still, it's difficult not tying these two together. Consider Trout posted a .958 OPS in 91 games at Arkansas in 2011 before struggling -- yes, struggling, as you may forget -- in the Majors (.672 OPS in 40 games).
There's little doubt that as Grichuk, now 21, says, "We'll see what happens," he'd be more than happy to take his lumps in Anaheim by July or August.
"They say if you can hit in Double-A, you can hit in the big leagues," he said, "so I'm excited to go up there and see what I can do against good pitching."