Name: Trevor Bauer
Notable 2011 Stats: 3.00 ERA, 2.20 FIP, 1 HRA, 4 BB, 17 K, and 44% GB% in 9 IP with Visalia (High-A);
7.56 ERA, 3.44 FIP, 3 HRA, 8 BB, 26 K, and 46% GB% in 16 2/3 IP with Mobile (AA);
5.96 ERA, 3.00 FIP, 4 HRA, 12 BB, 43 K, and 45% GB% in 25 2/3 IP total
Why He’s This High: There was a lot of debate as to whether Bauer or #15 prospect Gerrit Cole was the best college pitcher in the 2011 draft. Cole went first to Pittsburgh, while Bauer went third to Arizona, but as their placement on this list indicates, they both immediately became elite pitching prospects.
Bauer gets the edge over Cole here because he got into pro ball a bit earlier and proved that his stuff translated exceptionally well even to Double-A; there was late-season talk that he would play in the majors the same year he was drafted. Even with the Diamondbacks acquiring Trevor Cahill in the offseason, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Bauer open 2012 in Arizona, and he could certainly be up at some point during the season.
Bauer’s a fairly small pitcher, but he gets great leverage from a Tim Lincecum-esque delivery. While he doesn’t have Cole’s mid-to-upper-90′s velocity, he sits at 91-94 mph, which is plenty given how quickly the ball gets on hitters and how much the pitch moves. He throws a plus curveball and a solid-average changeup that give him plenty of swing-and-miss opportunities. He has excellent command of all his offerings.
Why He’s This Low: Bauer shouldered a huge workload in college and isn’t a big guy, and in a lot of ways, he’s getting the same handwringing that Lincecum received from scouts who weren’t sure what to make of his unusual training regime and mechanics. Obviously, Lincecum more than quashed those doubts, but as we all know, 1-for-1 is not an adequate sample size with these sorts of things.
Since Bauer’s fastball and changeup are presently a notch shy of plus, and he doesn’t have an extensive professional track record, he comes out just shy of the more proven arms, but it’s telling that only one pitcher without Double-A experience is ahead of him on this list.
Conclusions: If Bauer can stay healthy and maintain his stuff over the course of a professional season, which he probably can, he should pitch at or near the front of a rotation. Where he is on the #1-#3 continuum will depend on how much he can improve the minor inconsistencies in his game, like his command (note the 4 BB/9 in his brief pro stint) and his changeup. He looks an awful lot like what Lincecum was when he came out of college, and while it would be ridiculous to call Lincecum’s career a probable outcome, it might just be within reach for Bauer. And that’s saying something.
Check out all of the Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects here!
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