With more polish, Tribe's Bauer could thrive
Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer's baseball history is a fascinating story of outstanding pitching highlights, unconventional training techniques, personal conviction, endless commentary and differing opinions. Lots of differing opinions.
From a scouting perspective, Bauer offers a compete package of qualities and tools to evaluate and project. He has a vast repertoire of pitches that are under construction and refinement.
Bauer went to Hart High School in Newhall, Calif. From his own admission, Bauer didn't like or fit in with the environment of high school. As he is now, he was very much an individual seeking his own peace of mind.
A successful starting pitcher for Hart, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Bauer decided to attend UCLA.
In his freshman year, Bauer went 9-3 with a 2.99 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 105 1/3 innings.
As a sophomore, Bauer had a 12-3 record with a 3.02 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 131 1/3 innings.
Named the All Pac-10 Pitcher Of The Year in 2011, Bauer went 13-2 with a 1.25 ERA. He had 203 strikeouts in 16 starts.
The First-Year Player Draft of 2011 was a much-discussed, much-debated and much-anticipated event. Pitchers such as Danny Hultzen (University of Virginia), Dylan Bundy (Owasso, Okla., High School) Archie Bradley (Broken Arrow, Okla., High School) and Bauer's own UCLA teammate Gerrit Cole were all being discussed as possible top Draft selections.
The Draft order went as follows: Cole to Pittsburgh, Hultzen to Seattle and Bauer to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bundy followed Bauer at No. 4 overall and went to the Orioles. Bradley went No. 7 to the D-backs as their second of three picks in the first and supplemental rounds.
Scouts and team personnel were well aware of the traits, quirks, training regimens and backgrounds of all the premier pitchers being considered for the Draft. Bauer's unconventional training tactics were well-chronicled.
One pitcher Bauer has always admired is San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum. Lincecum uses an unorthodox delivery, making the most of his smallish frame and big arm. It is understandable that Bauer feels he can have the same type of success as Lincecum, the pitcher who has influenced much of his style.
In 2011, Bauer began his professional career playing at two D-backs classifications. He was a starting pitcher at both Class A Visalia and Double-A Mobile in his age-20 rookie year. Combined, Bauer made seven starts, throwing 25 2/3 innings. He had a record of 1-2 and an ERA of 5.96. Bauer struck out 43 while walking only 12. His WHIP was 1.51.
Last season, Bauer pitched again for Mobile (eight starts) and then he was promoted to Triple-A Reno, where he started 14 games. In the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Bauer threw to a 2.85 ERA at Reno, winning five games while losing once. He struck out 97 batters and walked 35 in 82 innings.
On June 18, 2012, at age 21, Bauer had impressed the D-backs enough to earn a promotion to the Major League club. He had pitched less than 180 Minor League innings when he was summoned.
Bauer's early Major League experience set the tone for a rocky few months in his overall development. At the time of his promotion, he had little background, knowledge and understanding of the expectations and nuances of being on a big league club.
I believe Bauer tried to throw too hard and show too many different types of pitches to be effective. He made some mistakes. He didn't follow usual clubhouse and on-field protocol in every situation. It had negative ramifications.
Realizing an opportunity to fill a team need at shortstop by obtaining Didi Gregorius in trade, the D-backs sent Bauer to the Cleveland Indians in a three-team offseason deal that also involved the Cincinnati Reds.
As a member of the Indians, Bauer has made spot starts this season and has shown some rough edges and some very fine moments, allowing 15 walks in 16 1/3 innings.
Bauer has a strong arm with a repertoire that includes a wide variety of pitches. Not all are perfected. Not all are effective. His upside is evident and obvious.
Bauer throws his fastball a little less than half the time. He has variations of the fastball, but most are four-seamers that sit around 93 mph. Bauer takes something off that pitch when he throws his slider at 81 mph and his curve at 77 mph. Those changes of speed do alter the balance and eye level of the hitters and make his fastball more effective. Bauer also throws a quality 82-mph changeup and an 86-mph screwball, which reverses the motion of his slider.
In my opinion, on too many occasions in the past, Bauer has started his pitch sequencing with a changeup or another secondary pitch.
The keys to potential success will be Bauer's command and sequencing. If he can throw his fastball for strikes and use that as a solid base from which to work his secondary pitches, he will be more effective. Bauer has to throw strike one to gain control of at-bats. He has to dominate the hitter with quality pitch sequencing. Bauer has to be more economical with his pitch count and allow fewer bases on balls.
Called to make a spot start for the Indians recently, Bauer showed much better command and outstanding progress.
It must be remembered Bauer is only 22 and is not, in my opinion, a finished product. He's getting much closer.
I believe Bauer can be effective as a starting pitcher. He will mature and gain the experience needed to partner with his intelligence and desire.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoffon Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.