I made the trek out to beautiful Jackie Robinson stadium yesterday to watch UCLA take on St. Mary's in the second game of the Dodgertown Classic. Trevor Bauer was pitching for the Bruins, and here are some notes, impressions, and statistics for the talented junior.
(Side note: I got to meet Keith Law at the game yesterday, he was there scouting Bauer as well. Cool guy.)
Trevor Bauer is a 20 year old junior right handed pitcher out of North Hollywood, CA. According to his UCLA player profile,his favorite pro player is Tim Lincecum, and when trying to project Bauer Lincecum is the first player that comes to mind. The comparison isn't perfect, of course. Bauer (listed at 6'2', 185) is bigger than Lincecum, and while at first glance their deliveries look similar (for a great slo-mo video of Bauer in last year's Houston Classic click here) closer looks reveal some differences. Most prominently, Bauer doesn't recreate Lincecum's now-famous "dangle," where his pitching arm hangs loose straight down towards the ground. In addition, Bauer's stride isn't nearly as long as Lincecum's. The thing that gives me pause the most about Bauer's delivery, however, is his seeming inability to repeat it. As I watched, his landing foot seemed to land in a different place every time, and was dramatically different between the stretch and the windup. On the plus side, Bauer is famous for his incredible work ethic and work-out routine, and his delivery avoids the dreaded "inverted W" that has been fingered as the culprit to many arm injuries.
As for his results, there may not be a college pitcher in the country with better stats over the last two years than Bauer (and that includes his teammate and near-guaranteed top 2 pick Gerritt Cole). Coming into this season, his career statistics looked like:
IP ERA K BB K/9 BB/9 K/BB WHIP OAVG
236.2 3.00 257 68 9.77 2.58 3.78 1.21 .236
His 2011 season statistics look like this:
IP ERA K BB K/9 BB/9 K/BB WHIP OAVG
31.2 1.71 46 14 13.07 3.97 3.28 1.04 .167
Notes from the game on Saturday:
He's got three pitches: a fastball that sits 94-95 and can touch 97, a plus curveball that serves as his strikeout pitch, and an average changeup he uses to keep hitters off-balance. He's upped his fastball velocity this year by about 3 MPH, but it shows in his lack of control. He consistently missed his with his fastball, and it hurt him in the sixth, when St. Mary's 3B Pat Wisdom hit one way over the 347 sign in left-center.
Out of the stretch he had some serious struggles with control early, and he just couldn't find the zone. All three of his walks and his HBP occured in the first three innings. After a bullpen session during the bottom of the fourth (while UCLA was up to bat) he really found a second wind and cruised from there. Keith Law reported yesterday that he was still sitting 92-93 into the seventh inning, well after his 100th pitch. Besides the homer in the sixth, he looked overwhelmingly dominant. His game line looked like this:
7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 13 K, 123 pitches
Yes, you read that right, a week after throwing 129 pitches in sub-freezing temperatures in Omaha, John Savage leaves Bauer out there to throw 123 pitches in a 10-2 game. There was no good reason to have him come out in the 8th, and probably not for the 7th either. But that's a conversation for another time.
Pros: He already has two plus pitches in his fastball and his curveball, and his changeup is at worst average. He has become famous for his eccentric workout routine and incredible flexibility, and seems to have all the makings of a front-of-the-staff workhorse. His fastball and his curveball are both strikeout pitches, and his fastball really does have that late life that makes it appear to jump across the plate. Curveball buckled knees all night, drew a lot of looking strikes. Led the country in strikeouts last year.
Cons: His workload, especially this season, has been high. His motion has made a lot of trainers squirm, even though he has no history of arm problems. He has sacrificed control for velocity a bit this year.
Overall, I would say that Bauer is most likely a mid-first round pick, somewhere between 15 and 25. He's in a pack of pitchers behind the Cole-Purke-Gray group, but he's not far behind them.