The enigmatic Trevor Bauer has been one of the most polarizing figures in baseball since the Arizona Diamondbacks selected him third overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. Driven. Stubborn. Talented. Uncoachable. Wicked Arsenal. Inconsistent delivery. Future ace. Future flameout. All terms used to describe a pitcher who turned just 23 in January. Once destined for stardom, a shove out the door in Arizona and a rocky 2013 campaign has dimmed the former Tiger’s seemingly bright future. However, there’s an ace in the making over in Atlanta whose recent success could offer a glimmer of hope for the Indians pitcher.
Julio Teheran’s rise to stardom was anything but graceful. Signed out of Columbia at age 16, the flame-throwing righty quickly rose through the Braves’ system and was rated the top prospect in the organization prior to the 2011 season (and fifth in all of baseball). A September call-up ensued later that season, and a spot in the rotation was all but ensured when Teheran entered 2012 Spring Training as the number one rated right-hand pitching prospect in baseball
Until it wasn’t.
The Braves’ tried to tinker with Teheran’s violent delivery in the hopes of preserving his electric arm in the long run. The result was a significant dip in velocity, pitches that fell flat and a loss in control. He stuggled to find the strikezone, and was battered around all Spring when he could. Teheran was re-assigned to AAA-Gwinnett, and the league he so dominated a year earlier (15-3, 2.55 ERA) beat him like a drum (7-9, 5.08 ERA). His struggles left him off the September roster that season, and the once prized prospect was an afterthought entering the 2013 season.
The Braves punted any tweaks they tried to make, told Teheran to do his own thing and the rest is history. A phenomenal Spring (1.29 ERA over 14.1 innings) carried over into a 14-8, 3.20 ERA rookie campaign followed by a 6-year $32.4 million extension.
It’s a tale of that the once-touted Bauer knows all too well.
The Diamondbacks selected Bauer with the third pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, and after dominating in his first full season of minor league ball (12-2, 2.42 ERA, 157 K’s) was consistently ranked among the top prospects in all of baseball. Differences with the Diamondbacks brass led to a change in scenery for the LSU product, and Bauer was traded to the Cleveland Indians prior to the 2013 season and brought his elite-prospect status with him.
In an effort to find a more consistent delivery (and nurse a groin injury), Bauer fiddled with his mechanics throughout the season and the results were anything but encouraging. He struggled in AAA (6-7, 4.15 ERA) and labored through four starts at the big-league level (1-2, 5.29 ERA, 16 BB in 17 innings). Bauer’s unlimited arsenal of pitches couldn’t find the zone and the once future-ace has fallen off the prospect landscape.
Like Teheran, Bauer decided to backtrack from any changes he made in his delivery this offseason, and returned to the routine that made him such a weapon as an amateur and early in his professional career. Like the 2012 version of Teheran, Bauer enters this season with limited expectations and a lot to prove. The Indians hope that Bauer, like Teheran, just hit a speed bump in his rise to stardom.