Gerrit Cole out of UCLA was the number 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLB amateur draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. But Cole’s college teammate was also taken two picks after him by the Arizona Diamondbacks. His name is Trevor Bauer and he was arguably the most dominant college pitcher last year. Some even believed that Bauer should be taken ahead of Cole, but the Diamondbacks will surely be happy that both the Pirates and Mariners passed on him. Bauer is a right handed pitcher who completely overmatched the majority of college hitters last year after striking out 203 batters in only 136 innings pitched. That is good enough for an outstanding 13.43 K/9 ratio. He also pitched 10 complete games in 2011 and has shown in back to back years that he is a very durable starter. With Jarrod Parker and Tyler Skaggs already making progress towards the major leagues and with Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson locks for the rotation for years to come, the Diamondbacks are in pretty good shape with their pitching. Some scouts even think that Bauer will be a better long term player than his teammate Cole.
What makes Bauer unique to other pitchers is his unorthodox mechanics. He is a student of pitching and has an outstanding, professional work ethic. With a major in Computer Mathematics, Bauer has scientifically perfected his wind-up and delivery. Although there are many moving parts, his mechanics are pretty smooth without any red flags for injury. We have seen another pitcher with unusual mechanics, in Tim Lincecum win two Cy Young Awards at a very young while remaining completely durable. While Lincecum and Bauer are not perfectly comparable, it goes to show that a pitcher can have a unique style and still remain healthy and productive. Bauer’s delivery is deceptive as he hides the ball well when coming over the top before releasing it. Another nice thing to see is Bauer’s long stride to the plate, maximizing velocity and taking stress his shoulder. He also lands in a solid fielding position, standing tall after his release.
The main thing that separated Gerrit Cole and Bauer in the 2011 draft was pure stuff. Cole possesses a plus-plus fastball that reaches the high 90′s consistently, while Bauer’s fastball sits in the low 90′s. But Bauer’s breaking ball is his plus-plus, strikeout pitch. It is not just a curveball but not just a slider. Bauer adds and takes away spin on the pitch to manipulate the break on it. The slider-like pitch is an elite strikeout pitch while the curveball is more of a pitch to keep hitters off balance. Combine a good fastball, a fantastic breaking ball, with a good change-up to keep left handed hitters off balance, and you have the repertoire of a potential above average starting pitcher. While Bauer only technically throws 3 different pitches, in reality, he has 4, all oh which are good to plus in ratings.
Overall, Trevor Bauer will rival Jarrod Parker for the top prospect in the Diamondbacks farm system and could reach the big league rotation in 2012. He is in a good spot with Arizona becoming a team on the rise and already a good core of pitchers in the rotation. It is hard to project any pitcher to be a shoe-in as a future ace, as aces certainly do not grow on trees. But there seems to be a pretty high ceiling with Trevor Bauer and he can easily become an elite pitcher in the future. It also helps too that he gets to pitch in the NL West. Expect to see Bauer in the big leagues in September, and possibly earlier, depending on how Arizona’s 2012 campaign goes.