Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Plus stuff with command concerns from unorthodox delivery leaves ceiling maxing out as a number two starter.
The Player: Trevor Bauer (RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks) – The fourth overall pick in the draft, Bauer stole the headlines from number one overall pick Gerritt Cole while at UCLA in the spring. He was a dominating force heading into the draft and that continued in three starts at High-A in his debut. He was quickly promoted to Double-A Mobile where he hit some bumps in the road, finishing the summer with a 5.96 ERA in seven starts across 25.2 innings. He allowed 27 hits, walked 12, and struck out 43 batters.
Body: Smallish right-hander, standing just 6-foot-1 and weighing in around 175 pounds. Lacks the physicality of the prototypical pitching prospect but makes up for it in other ways.
Makeup: Tremendous work ethic with a perfectionist attitude. Can be too analytical at times and must learn to stop short of over-thinking everything. Gets along with teammates and coaches well.
Delivery/Mechanics: Has some funk to his delivery with a head whip and a lot of torque. He will draw comparisons (and unfair ones at that) to Tim Lincecum with his delivery. His arm works quite well and has good speed on all his pitches. Has some recoil after he releases.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 96, Low – 90, Average – 92-93, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 96, Low 91, Average 92-93, Grade – 60/60
Fastball (FB) Movement: He generates good angle to the plate with a higher arm slot, but the ball lacks movement, particularly when up in the zone. Grade – 40/40
Overall Fastball: Grade – 60/60
Curveball (CB): Hammer curveball with true 12-6 downer action that can induce feeble swings from hitters even when they are expecting it. Grade – 60/70
Slider (SL): Doesn’t throw regularly but will mix in as chase pitch against right-handers, gets around it too much and flattens it out. Grade – 40/40
Splitter (SP): Throws occasionally but shows potential at times when he sets it up with his fastball. Grade – 40/50
Change-up (CH): Good arm speed and the same spin as his fastball, solid deception with some sink and occasional arm-side fade. Grade – 50/60
Control: Can throw strikes routinely but will nibble at times while looking for the strikeout, at his best when he attacks the zone with all his pitches and forces people to hit his best stuff. Grade – 50/60
Command: The bit of effort in his delivery hampers his ability to locate within the zone, will work up too often and must locate low in the zone with more consistency. Grade – 30/40
Summation: Extremely deep arsenal including another pitch he throws in the low- to mid-80s that will move in on right-handers. Will never be a command artist but understands sequencing and works hard to maintain his stuff deep in games. Loves finishing off strikeouts and must adapt to shorter at-bats and accepting some weak contact as a pro if he wants to continue working into the late innings. Solid athlete that handles the running game pretty well. Must improve his fielding but may be limited as a result of recoil in his delivery.
Relative Risk: Moderate. There are still some scouts that question his long term durability but so far he has worked himself into shape to handle a heavy workload. Aside from the traditional injury risk with pitching prospects he should be a big leaguer in relatively short order.
Future: Bauer will return to Double-A to start the 2012 season and he will need to locate better against the advanced hitters of the Southern League. He needs to pick his spots to go for the strikeout and just let them come naturally. 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 a number two starter that can log tons of innings in a contending rotation.