Will Middlebrooks Anticipated Mike Trout’s Breakout Success, Knew He Could Be ‘Rookie of the Year’

Will Middlebrooks Anticipated Mike Trout's Breakout Success, Knew He Could Be 'Rookie of the Year'BOSTON — Almost overnight, Mike Trout blossomed from rising
prospect to major league superstar.

But Will Middlebrooks saw it coming long before most. Nearly
one year ago, the Red Sox third baseman witnessed flashes of brilliance from
the 21-year-old as teammates on the Scottsdale Scorpions, an Arizona Fall
League team.

"[He was] just a raw all-around athlete,"
Middlebrooks said. "He's fast. He's powerful. He makes all the plays. He
made some spectacular plays along with the routine. Everything you're seeing is
not a surprise to us who have played with him."

Trout's feats are especially remarkable, considering he
didn't even start the year in the big leagues. He made his season debut on
April 28 and has impacted the Angels in every facet of the game ever since.

Through 101 games, the rookie has clubbed 24 home runs and
70 RBIs while batting .343. His speed has been electrifying as he's swiped
39 bases and tallied 97 runs from the leadoff spot.

He's virtually a lock for the American League Rookie of the
Year and a frontrunner for the American League MVP award. And it begs the
question — a year ago, did Middlebrooks ever envision that Trout would be an MVP
candidate?

"We never thought that much," Middlebrooks said.
"But we knew he could be a Rookie of the Year any year.

"But it's not just how well he's playing, it's how he's
handling it all, and you can see it on the field, he's having fun. He's playing
like a 28-year-old, not a 21-year-old, so it's a lot of fun to watch."

Middlebrooks is no stranger to Trout's work ethic, either.
Over the offseason, the duo — along with Angels outfielder Torii Hunter and
pitcher LaTroy Hawkins — trained together in preparation for the 2012 season.

That competitive nature spilled into their off-the-field
relationship. As neighbors last fall in Arizona, Middlebrooks and Trout
routinely battled it out for supremacy through video games.

"We were on Madden — everyday," Middlebrooks
said. "We're both really competitive people and it got ugly a few times.
Plenty of thrown controllers, but it was a lot of fun."

These days, both youngsters are leaving their imprint on
Major League Baseball.

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