Outfielder Mike Trout and starting pitcher Garrett Richards have been teammates across three levels the past two seasons, and they are currently roommates in Salt Lake. But if the prospects continue to perform as they did in their respective Triple-A debuts, they could find themselves together in Los Angeles soon enough.
Trout, the Angels' No. 1 prospect, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored while No. 3 Richards tossed seven strong innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out seven without a walk in the Bees' 3-2 season-opening win over Tacoma on Thursday night.
"We've always worked well together," Trout said. "We joke around with one another, but when it gets down to it, we help each other out. We want to keep it that way for a while."
Trout, normally an outfielder, played the designated hitter role Thursday for Salt Lake as he continues to recover from shoulder stiffness sustained during Spring Training. The 2011 Texas League All-Star also lost about 15 pounds due to a separate spring illness. The combination of maladies forced MLB.com's No. 3 overall prospect from playing in many Cactus League games over the spring and continues to keep him from playing his normal position in center.
But the former 25th overall pick said he'd rather be a DH and get completely healthy than rush back to the outfield and risk getting hurt again.
"I feel great right now," Trout said. "I'm going to DH for a little bit, though, until everything's right. I threw [180 to 200 feet] for 10 minutes earlier today. After I've done that for a few days here, I'll be able to head back out there."
Trout hit .326 and stole 33 bases over 91 games for Double-A Arkansas. His stellar play earned him a callup to the Majors, where he hit .220 in 40 games last year.
"I kind of expected to be sent down after the spring I had," he said. "Staying healthy is what I want to focus on now. Getting my arm strong, getting some good swings, getting into it more, all that stuff is what I'm hoping to do over here."
Besides focusing on his own upcoming year, Trout also reflected on the quality outing of his roommate, who is ranked as baseball's No. 67 prospect by MLB.com after putting together a 12-2 record and 3.15 ERA for Arkansas last season.
"He always has good stuff," Trout said. "From inning to inning, he's always perfecting things. Once he gets out there, he's working on his command and always getting better."
Richards is competing with fellow righty Jerome Williams for the final spot in the Angels rotation to begin the season. Williams allowed two runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five over five innings for Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Thursday. The Halos won't need a fifth starter until April 15.
Los Angeles' No. 15 prospect, center fielder Kole Calhoun, plated Trout with a seventh-inning sacrifice fly for his first Triple-A RBI after totaling 99 at Inland Empire last season.
Tacoma left fielder Mike Wilson smacked a solo home run off Richards in the fifth.