With a year left before he turns 30, Mike Trout is still climbing the all-time leaderboards at a historic pace.
Trout, who has been baseball’s top player and is a surefire Hall of Famer when he retires, turned 29 on Friday, August 7. The teams that didn’t draft Trout in 2009 — the Los Angeles Angels snagged him with the 25th overall pick — have been kicking themselves for years.
Two years after the Angels drafted him, a 19-year-old Trout reached the big leagues. But was Trout the youngest player in MLB history? And if he wasn’t, who holds that title?
Plenty of teenagers, including Mike Trout, have reached the majors
There has been no shortage of teenagers that played in major league games.
Mike Trout joined the club, which has had limited access in the modern era with farm systems and service time, in the summer of 2011. When Trout played his first game on July 8, 2011, he was a month shy of turning 20.
Some of the game’s greatest players all debuted when they were teenagers. Detroit Tigers legend Ty Cobb and Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson both made the Hall of Fame after reaching the big leagues at a young age in the early 20th century.
Later stars like Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, and Mickey Mantle followed in their footsteps.
Other Hall of Fame enshrinees who debuted as teenagers include Expos outfielder Tim Raines, longtime Brewers shortstop Robin Yount, and Mel Ott, the feared Giants slugger who hit over 500 home runs.
Former Atlanta Braves outfielder Andruw Jones, who hit two World Series home runs at age 19, could enter the Hall of Fame soon.
Some of baseball’s current stars came up as teenagers
Although service time has made teams hesitant about promoting players early, several of baseball’s best active players — including Mike Trout — reached the majors as teenagers.
Nationals outfielder Juan Soto came up in 2018 at age 19 and promptly hit 22 home runs that year. Soto played a crucial role in the Nationals’ first World Series title last year.
Soto’s former teammate, Bryce Harper, joined that club in April 2012 and won NL Rookie of the Year.
Trout’s teammate, Angels outfielder Justin Upton, was 23 days shy of turning 20 when he played his first MLB game on August 2, 2007.
Diamondbacks ace Madison Bumgarner missed the mark by a month and change. Bumgarner turned 20 on August 1, 2009, and debuted with the Giants on September 8 of that year.
Who is the youngest player in MLB history?
Although Mike Trout debuted at age 19, he isn’t even close to being the youngest player in baseball history.
Thirteen players debuted at 16 years old. At least another 38 players were 17 years old when they debuted, according to Baseball-Reference.
None of those players were Joe Nuxhall, though. A 6-foot-3, 195-pound pitcher from Hamilton, Ohio, Nuxhall was only 15 years old when he took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds on June 10, 1944.
The Reds took a chance on Nuxhall, still in high school, because World War II depleted the roster. At the time, Nuxhall stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 180 pounds.
The Reds trailed 13-0 when Nuxhall entered the game. Nuxhall’s outing began well when he induced a ground ball out by Cardinals infielder George Fallon.
Nuxhall then allowed two hits, walked five Cardinals hitters, and allowed five runs before manager Bill McKechnie relieved him. Reds fans wouldn’t see Nuxhall again until he returned to the majors in 1952, a grown man at age 23.
Counting his ugly debut, Nuxhall went 130-109 with a 3.80 ERA in 15 seasons with the Reds. The two-time All-Star also pitched a season for the Kansas City Athletics and five games for the Angels in 1962.
Nuxhall later joined the Reds’ broadcast booth and called games from April 1967 until he retired in October 2004. Nuxhall passed away in November 2007 after a bout with cancer.
All age information courtesy of Baseball-Reference