"In some ways, I think the league has adjusted," the exec said. "If you look at how he's pitched now, there's actually a pretty consistent pattern. Everyone tries to come up and in on him. ... But his skill set is so refined for his age that teams haven't had success [doing] that."
It's been established that Trout does have a hole -- up in general, and up and in, in particular. But it's not "a glaring hole," the exec said. And his "weakness" is just "a relative weakness" compared to how good he is everywhere else.
"He covers up and away and middle away so well, and he covers down and in extremely well," the exec went on. "So you just don't have a large margin for error. The scouting reports say to pound him in, and guys do pound him in ... But you need to really get it in, like in a 4-by-4 [inch] spot ... or he'll kill you.
"A lot of guys you pitch 'in' are swinging at balls so far in off the plate, that it's a reasonable strategy. But he doesn't do that. He has such a mature approach. It's so rare that he swings at balls off the plate. ... You'll see him take balls two inches off the plate, and have no interest in swinging at them."
Not surprisingly, the advance scout was singing the same operetta, even though we didn't give him any indication of how other teams saw Trout.
"He's the best low-ball hitter in the major leagues," the scout said. "He hits that pitch down, and down and away, as well as anybody I've ever seen. Most hitters have holes. He doesn't have much of a hole. Up and in would be about it. But you've got to get it in there, because up and middle usually goes out of the park."
Now remember, advance scouts stay employed by finding weaknesses to exploit in everybody. But what this scout sees is a player who is close to weakness-free -- with no indication that's going to change anytime soon.
"His knowledge of pitching is going to grow," the scout said. "He already knows the strike zone really well. So controlling the strike zone isn't going to be a problem. He doesn't chase much now. But as he figures it out and gets a better body of knowledge of how pitchers are trying to get him out, his mastery of the strike zone is only going to grow. He's something, man. You've pretty much got to make a perfect pitch on him, or he'll get you."
Asked if he saw anything at all that could undo Trout's path to greatness, aside from injury, the scout replied: "Really nothing." And Bane, the man who drafted him, is fully on board with that assessment.
"I really can't think of anything that could stand in his way," Bane said. "The power is off the charts. He scores a ton of runs. He drives in a ton of runs. Every time he steals a base, he's safe. ... So show me one reason he's not going to go up [in performance].
"He's not going to get bored," Bane went on, "because he loves baseball. He looks like an SEC safety, so that body's not going anywhere. He's the fastest guy on the field -- and the strongest. He's got a great eye, and incredibly fast hands. So he should be better than all the other guys, until you look out and see five or six other guys on the field like that. So tell me why his numbers are going to go down. I can't think of any reason."
Well, here's one: Trout isn't going to get faster. So while he might be a fellow who's sprinkling 20 to 30 infield hits a year among the 489-foot homers right now, that's not going to happen forever.