The Arkansas Travelers lead the Texas League in all-stars with nine on the just-announced list. The Travs are also in first place in the North division, and are leading rivals NWA in the Car-Mart Cup and Springdale in the Jocketty Trophy competitions.
On the pitching side, five starters -- Matt Shoemaker, Orangel Arenas, Garrett Richards, Trevor Reckling, and Drew Taylor -- are within the league's top 12 in ERA. Richards leads the league in wins and innings pitched, and he is within eight strikeouts of the tops in the league. Closer Ryan Brasier is second in saves.
Offensively, Travs Ryan Mount and Mike Trout are in the league's top 10 in batting average, and phenom Trout is also in the top 10 in runs, hits, and stolen bases.
It has been a banner two-and-a-half months for Arkansas' only legitimate professional sports team with a rich history dating back a century, and besides getting it done with pitching that has been so good even Bill Valentine wouldn't complain, the big story of the season, and it is a major story, is Mike Trout.
Other than maybe not living up to some fans' expectations for home runs, the 19-year-old Jersey boy has shown that he has all the tools to be a perennial Major League all-star and is a special talent that does not come around too often.
We are talking possible Hall of Fame material here.
That's why it is such a shame he goes so largely unnoticed by the media and sports fans in Central Arkansas. He does not have a Razorback on his jersey, so most people don't even have a clue who he is. The local television stations give the Travs minimal coverage as it is, so any mention of Trout's name is pretty relegated to game highlights or Steve Sullivan throwing in a brief line about him as he is kicking it back to Christina Munoz.
I know it is a risky proposition to heavily promote players who could be called up the next week, but in a case such as this, the Travelers front office could also maybe do a better job of getting the word out.
And so could Trout. Next time an early morning radio interview is set up for him, he could act like a professional, wake up, and be engaged in answering questions with more than a sleepy one-word answer instead of sounding like a teenager who will be a sophomore in college (oh, wait).
All said, the Travs have a nice team currently assembled here with a major star roaming the center field. Los Angeles Angels fans should be excited about what is happening at their Double-A stepchild that never gets a rehab assignment.
Besides Trout, the Texas League all-stars from Arkansas include second baseman Mount, third baseman Luis Jimenez, shortstop Darwin Perez, and the afformentioned pitchers Arenas, Reckling, Richards, Shoemaker, and Brasier.
Too bad the Angels will dismantle this team within the month.
-- Travelerocity reporter