The slight current of the Maurice River pulls at Mike Trout. It's the one place the Millville High star centerfielder can escape and relax these days, fishing and crabbing with friends, away from the ebb and flow of the baseball world that has been tugging at him the last few weeks.
Tomorrow night, Trout's life could take a dramatic turn if his name is called - as expected - in the first round of Major League Baseball's amateur draft.
The 6-2, 200-pounder has been contacted by all 30 major league teams and 27 team representatives have visited his South Jersey home. He hasn't even graduated high school and he could already be set for life.
He has been watched and scouted for the last 2 years, and is talented enough to have secured a baseball scholarship to East Carolina. But it looks as if the 4-year starter for the Thunderbolts will never head in that direction. Trout, a five-tool player projected to be an outfielder, could be the best baseball prospect this area has had since Malvern Prep's Ben Davis went second overall in the 1995 amateur draft to the San Diego Padres.
Trout finished his senior year hitting .500 in 18 games, with 11 homers and 30 RBI. More importantly, he has been summoned by MLB Network to be a part of its special draft show taking place tomorrow night in Secaucus, N.J.
Trout just arrived back home last night from St. Louis, where he visited this weekend to work out for both the Cardinals, who have the 19th pick, and the Oakland Athletics, who pick 13th. They are the teams, according to Trout, that have shown the most interest in him.
He has worked out for Detroit at the Tigers' spring-training facility in Lakeland, Fla. The Tigers have the ninth pick.
The Yankees have also been keeping an eye on Trout. According to sources, the Yankees like him quite a bit, but believe he will be well off the board by the time they pick at No. 29.
"At least that's what they told me," Trout said. "This has been a great experience . . . To me, it's all about being patient and calm, and seeing what happens. It's funny, because it's like you hear something new almost every day, like who's interested and where I can go.
"The biggest priority for me is to get drafted. Sure, it would be great to so somewhere in the first round, and from everything I've been hearing, it's the one thing I might be able to say will happen."
For now, Trout has retained adviser Craig Landis, whose clients include Phillies righthander Brett Myers and former Phillie Aaron Rowand.
A little happenstance helped make all this possible. Two years ago, Trout pitched in an opening-round state playoff game against Toms River South. He yielded just one hit, and although it was a three-run homer, the scouts who were there to see a senior had their attention diverted to the sophomore pitcher from Millville.
"If you had to look at one instance, one game that put Mike on the map, that was it," Thunderbolts coach Roy Hallenbeck said. "That's the game that transformed Mike into a major league prospect. I know he had a very good game, good enough to show the scouts what he was capable of, and I know a report was filed by the scouts who were there from Major League Baseball."
That was followed by a junior season in which Trout garnered even more attention and earned invitations to every major camp and leagues throughout the country.
"The difference was the size," Hallenbeck said. "The skills were always there, but as he's gotten older, the skills have improved with his size. He runs a 4.6 in the 40 and he's almost 210 pounds. He's like a bull on the bases. I have to say with everything going on around him, he's still the same. There is a great foundation there with Mike's family."
Baseball runs in the Trout family. Trout's father, Jeff, a history teacher at Millville, once played 4 years as an infield prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization, where he happened to be coached by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. He reached the Double A level. Mike's destination could go beyond that.
"There are a lot of things going through your head during a time like this," Mike said. "I'm going to try not to think about it too much and try to think about something else. But I know with Tuesday coming, that's almost near-impossible. The one benefit I have is I won't have to wait for the phone to ring. I'll be there waiting for them to call my name. I'll be a little nervous, but I'm going to keep focusing on the positives and try and shut the negatives out."
By going with the flow. *
E-mail Joseph Santoliquito at