Trout's ascent evident in production with RISP

Shoemaker to start Tuesday's opener vs. Rays; Cowgill, Morin progressing

Trout's ascent evident in production with RISP

NEW YORK -- As Mike Trout continues to mature as a hitter, his production in big spots continues to improve.

Whether the two are linked is debatable, and impossible to determine with any certainty. But Trout's OPS with runners in scoring position has gone from .951 in 2012 to .993 in '13 to 1.024 in '14 to 1.311 so far this year, fifth in the Majors among players with at least 50 plate appearances in that situation.

That's a small sample size, of course, but it's trending in a very favorable direction.

"I don't know if there's any rhyme or reason," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Trout, who finished eighth in the Majors in OPS with runners in scoring position last year. "He's just a good hitter, and when he gets opportunities with guys on base, he doesn't come out of his game."

Trout carried a .289/.379/.552 slash line through the first third of the regular season, while on pace to finish with 42 home runs (a career high), 93 RBIs (18 fewer than last year) and 24 stolen bases (eight more than last year).

But the 23-year-old center fielder is also on pace for 150 strikeouts, a trend that continually surprises hitting coach Don Baylor.

"Because he has such a good eye at the plate," Baylor said, "and a lot of young guys don't have that kind of discipline."

Worth noting

• The Angels will start Matt Shoemaker in Tuesday's series opener against the Rays and push Hector Santiago back to start next Friday, scrapping their initial plan to have Shoemaker pitch out of the bullpen for a few days. Shoemaker and Santiago will both be on eight days' rest. The Angels were off on Thursday and will be off again on Monday.

Collin Cowgill (sprained right wrist) and Mike Morin (strained left oblique) are progressing, but both are still weeks away and would require a rehab assignment before being activated off the disabled list. Cowgill took dry swings on Friday and will hit off a tee Saturday. Morin played light catch on Wednesday and Friday.

• Center fielder Gary Brown cleared waivers and was outrighted back to Triple-A Salt Lake on Thursday. Brown, 26, was the 24th overall pick by the Giants in 2010 and is a career .273/.337/.410 hitter in the Minor Leagues. The Angels claimed him off waivers from the Cardinals on April 22.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.