There was a time in Mark Trumbo’s baseball life when he had to sell himself as a hitter.
Drafted by the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim in the 18th round of the 2004 First-Year Player draft as a pitcher, Trumbo featured a fastball that registered as fast as 97 mph as a senior at Villa Park High School in Orange County, Calif.
“I had always made a point to teams that I can hit too, hoping that maybe they would consider that, but most teams said ‘no we’re not interested in you as a hitter so just forget about it,” Trumbo told Dan Ashby of milb.com back in 2010. “The Angels were one of the few teams that were interested.”
Back then, Trumbo said Wednesday, his bat was but a cherry on top of his big right arm and he had to go out of his way to point it out to scouts.
“That was one point that my dad always tried to make,” he recalled. “Especially appealing to the National League teams — that I could handle the bat a little bit, too.”
But after being drafted as a right-handed pitcher, a visit to the acclaimed Dr. Lewis Yocum gave the Angels’ scouting director at the time, Eddie Bane, cold feet about Trumbo’s possible longevity as a pitcher.
“I ended up having some complications with my physical with Dr. Yocum,” Trumbo explained. “And the Angels decided that, I guess, they didn’t feel comfortable making that kind of financial investment in me as a pitcher.
“But we set up three or four private hitting workouts and they kind of admitted that maybe they didn’t do enough homework on me in that regard.”
Now with the Diamondbacks, Trumbo finds himself slated as an everyday outfielder — no longer just a designated hitter or platoon position player. And the arm that was once highly scouted is going to become more apparent.
Trumbo’s defensive transition from the pitcher’s mound to third base to first base and then to the outfield, he claims, came in 2009, when he requested some time out there. A little more than a year later, on Sept. 29, 2010, his third career major-league start came in right field for the Angels.
When asked about the outfielder’s defensive ability on Tuesday at Cactus League media day, Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto wasted no time in pointing to the arm his organization drafted back in 2004.
“One thing I can tell you,” he began in reply, “he will throw. You’ll be shocked at the arm strength.”
Though going on to point out his fielding deficiencies — struggling to go back on balls, overthrowing cutoff men, and more — Dipoto couldn’t overstate the capacity of the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Trumbo’s cannon.
“He’s not going to cover the ground that a Gerardo Parra will cover, but he’ll throw every bit as much as Gerardo,” the GM said.
In 122 career outfield starts, Trumbo has turned in six outfield assists. That works out to a rate of about five percent. Parra, meanwhile, has recorded 54 assists in 560 outfield starts — good for a rate of 10 percent.
Parra smiled at Dipoto’s comparison between him and Trumbo.
“I haven’t seen him throw,” he said. “But I know he’s got a good arm.”
Parra, whose pitches were clocked around 93 miles per hour as a 16-year-old in Venezuela, raised his eyebrows when he heard about Trumbo’s former velocity exploits.
“That’s good,” he said, chuckling. “Because no one’s going to run on him now.”