As we approach the mid-way point of Spring Training, let’s continue looking at the next wave of Major League Baseball, and fantasy baseball, stars. This series on prospects will cover a wide range of players as well as positions. We’ll cover sleepers and some of the more obvious stars of the future.
The next prospect in the series is other of the two big-time pitchers who just finished their college careers at UCLA. Property of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Trevor Bauer is the less heralded of the two Bruins, but the one who is more of a sure thing. Though former teammate Gerrit Cole of the Pittsburgh Pirates has the makings of a true ace, Bauer has all of the tools needed to be a front of the rotation pitcher and is more likely to approach his ceiling.
Bauer will draw comparisons to Tim Lincecum, based on physical and mechanical similarities. Like Lincecum, Bauer’s delivery and loose arm not only helps him hide the ball, but it also helps him add extra movement and explosiveness to each of his offerings. The motion is fluid, with little imminent danger to his elbow or shoulder. He has pitched a great deal as a young pitcher, which could cause concerns for his long term durability in a player not as dedicated to his fitness and workout routines as Bauer is. Bauer was entrusted with a very heavy workload at UCLA, going over 125 pitches on 10 separate occasions in his last season.
Bauer may be wired a bit differently than your average baseball player, which is not necessarily a bad thing. His dedication to his pitching and conditioning are uncommon. He majored in computer mathematics at UCLA and has been described as thinking too much, and some in the game have complained about the seeming rigidity of Bauer’s routines.
Bauer throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball. His four-seamer can reach as high as 98 mph, but he usually works in the low-90’s where he can vary his speed and movement with better results. Bauer throws a slider and a curveball that has excellent depth, adding and subtracting speed as needed. Big league hitters will swing and miss at his curve and his changeup has definite potential.
He can throw strikes routinely but will nibble at times while looking for the strikeout. He needs to pick his spots to go for the strikeout and just let them come naturally. Bauer is at his best when he attacks the zone with all his pitches and forces batters to hit his best stuff. The funky delivery can hamper his ability to locate within the zone, so he must locate low in the zone with more consistency.
Deception and variety go a long way in college ball, but they can only take you so far in the pros. He will be an effective Major Leaguer pitcher, but he doesn’t have ace stuff. Bauer is a tremendous athlete that has constantly overcome his lack of physicality. He trains incredibly hard and truly knows what it means to compete. He will be a regular All-Star for Arizona and represents everything that a young pitcher should desire to be.
It’s possible he will break camp with the Diamondbacks, but with the team not hurting for starters just yet, he is likely return to Double-A to start the 2012 season where he will need to locate better against the advanced hitters of the Southern League. He could see the big leagues before the end of his first full season and he should be there to stay at some point in 2013. He profiles as an inning-eating, number two starter in a contending rotation.