Trevor Bauer (RHP – Cleveland Indians)
Columbus Clippers vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, April 24th, 2013 in Moosic Pennsylvania
5.0 IP, 5 hits, 2 BB, 8K’s and two earned runs
Trevor Bauer is once again lighting up the box score in Triple-A. While Bauer has only pitched 18 innings so far this season, he has 24 strikeouts, a 2.50 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. With a pedigree that includes a 2011 Golden Spikes award and a number three overall selection in the June 2011 first-year-player draft, huge expectations have been bestowed upon the young 22-year-old.
However, major league success is not defined by minor league box scores or amateur awards. Instead, major league success occurs when you get outs…well…in the major leagues. And to-date, that has been a problem for Bauer. In 21.1 innings, he’s walked more batters (20) than he’s struck out (19) and has a 5.91 ERA. Is it a matter of his arsenal not translating or is there something else going on?
To try and solve this equation, I had a chance to scout a recent game that left me with mixed emotions.
The arsenal is vast and consists of at least five pitches, perhaps six, if you include two hard curves or slurves that he threw.
- 90-93 MPH four-seam fastball that stayed within that range except for the second to last pitch of his outing where he reared back and hit 95. The pitch is ok for me but doesn’t have a lot of life or movement. Plus, given his frame at 6-foot-1, it comes in fairly flat.
- 86-87 MPH cut fastball that has screw-ball like action. This is a pretty good pitch and Bauer threw it a lot, particularly early in the contest.
- 79-81 MPH slider that fell short for me during the game. It was an average pitch that lacked a lot of bite.
- 73-77 MPH curve that is a plus pitch and maybe more. It’s a hammer of a curve that when Bauer can throw it for strikes, is a real weapon. The curve was really working during the game and he threw it a lot (nearly 40% of the time)
- 80-81 MPH change-up that had good arm action and nice velocity separation with his fastball but lacked depth. I rate this pitch as solid-average.
The arsenal is good, but with so many pitches and the variety of speeds in which Bauer delivers them, I’d rate the entire arsenal as above-average, even plus, despite only one true plus-plus pitch. However, the pitchability and command are a different story.
Bauer pitched backwards a lot during the game; particularly after the first inning. While pitchers who have plus control can do this, Bauer’s control of his secondary pitches are not at the level. He just can’t throw all of his secondary pitches for strikes and this is resulting in deep counts. The bottom line…97 pitches only got him through five innings despite an arsenal that generated eight strikeouts.
Part of the reason for his lack of precise command and control is the violence in his delivery. While the momentum to the plate is outstanding, the finishing of his delivery is not. He routinely jerks his head on the landing and then falls off hard to the first base side. The balance is well below average and this in turn, is causing him to not be able to repeat his delivery and loose his release point. It’s just not good and until he modifies his mechanics, I think finding elite success will be difficult.
Details of the 5th inning
Below is the pitch sequence of one of Bauer’s better innings. His pitch count was high and he started to throw more fastballs in order to make it through the inning. He also hit his high water mark at 95 MPH on his second to last pitch of the inning,
- Gil Velazquez – 90 FB (foul), 91 FB (foul), 78 CB (ball), 83 SL F9
- Corban Joseph – 82 CU (called strike), 76 CB (foul), 77 CB (ball), 75 CB (ball – little break), 76 CB (k outside), 78 (hard curve – strikeout)
- Addison Maruszak 82 CU (foul), 76 CB (nice – swinging strike), 93 FB (high – show me), 79 CB in the dirt (ball), 77 CB(good pitch, a little high called a ball), 95 (high mark – blooped into right for a hit)
- Zoilo Almonte 82 CU (K), 84 cutter (foul), 78 CB – swinging strike
I’ve never been a huge fan of Trevor Bauer and have always rejected the notion that he is a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. While the arsenal is deep and can be intimidating to an opposing lineup, I believe the violence in the delivery will limit him to a mid-rotation starter. While this might not be what the Diamondbacks thought when they selected him as the number three overall pick in the 2011 draft, he will still have a major league career and could in fact have several years of being a better than league average pitcher.