Washington Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo traveled the country over the last few weeks, personally checking on prospects for this year's draft, but he's not tipping his hand. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer, a 6'2'', 185lb right-hander born in Valencia, California who turned twenty this past January, is described in a feature article by ESPN the Magazine's Tim Keown entitled, "Just Another Freak", as a "salt-and-sweat-stained cap" wearing cerebral starter whose warm-up routine, workload, unique "arm-strengthening regimen" and adherence to Perry Husband's theory of "Effective Velocity" combine to make him a question mark heading into this Monday's 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft. A brainy pitcher in a "salt-and-sweat-stained" cap doesn't paint quite the picture New York Times' writer Alan Schwarz did last June when he described the Washington Nationals' no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper as, "... a tape-measure-testing, laser-throwing, eyeblack-oozing baseball cyborg," but the Nats don't have the first pick of the draft this year, they choose sixth (23rd and 34th), and there's no once-in-a-generation talents available in this year's class as there has been in each of the last two Drafts with Harper and before him Stephen Strasburg going no.1 overall to the Nationals...
ESPN.com's Keith Law and Baseball America had the Nats going with University of Kentucky right-hander Alex Meyer in their first Mock Drafts of the year a few weeks back. Bauer went to the Orioles in Mr. Law's first projections (BA has Cleveland taking Bauer 8th), but Mr. Law mentioned Bauer along with Virginia's LHP Danny Hultzen and Connecticut RHP Matt Barnes as names of interest should they be available for Washington at no.6. Three of the four pitchers; Meyer, Bauer and Hultzen were mentioned this morning in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article on the upcoming draft entitled, "Nats entering Draft from different vantage point", along with Owassa, Oklahoma high school right-hander Dylan Bundy, Gardner Edgerton, Kansas high school outfielder/right-hander Bubba Starling and Georgia Tech left-hander Jed Bradley as players, "a baseball source indicated that [the Nationals] were looking at."
In his May 18, 2011 Mock Draft, ESPN.com's Keith Law had Bauer going 3rd to the D-Backs, and he again matched the Washington Nationals with U of K's Meyer, but wrote that the Nationals would, "... jump on Bauer if he's here, but I'm not sure he gets past all three teams ahead of them, or [UCLA's Gerrit] Cole if the Royals pass. Matt Barnes and Jed Bradley are backup options." Baseball America matched the Nationals up with Bauer in their second-mock-go-round on 5/27. MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo says Bauer to the Nats in his latest crack at a mock entitled, "With days to go, Round 1 Draft projections", in which he writes that, "The slightly unorthodox Bauer is being mentioned all over the top of the first round, and it's hard to argue based on his performance and stuff." USA Today Sports Weekly's prediction? UCLA's RHP Trevor Bauer goes to the Nationals at no. 6, "Pitched his way into the top 10 this season, with better numbers than teammate [Gerrit] Cole."
"Slightly unorthodox"? That's what the ESPN.com feature article on Bauer by Tim Keown focuses on. Here's what Bauer does as he warms up:
Enjoy Bauer's unique approach now is ESPN.com's Tim Keown advice, before his eccentricities are ironed out by whichever MLB team does draft the right-hander, but Mr. Keown didn't break the news of Bauer's unique approach to pitching and conditioning. Ryan Rosenblatt from the SBN's Bruins Nation [UCLA] site, looked at the ESPN.com writer's article yesterday, writing, "Anybody who has followed Trevor Bauer's career knows he's a little different," while noting that while Bauer is "different" it's, "...what makes him good,":
"...while some chalk up his eccentricities to being strange, they would be missing the point. His eccentricities aren't for the sake of being eccentric or some superstition. He is different because he has studied the game and himself. He's taken that study and figured out how to best maximize his talents."
Just how good is Bauer? The right-hander's (12-2) with a 1.27 ERA, nine complete games, 34 BB's (2.40 BB/9) and 189 K's (13.32 K/9) in 15 starts and 127.2 IP this season, he was named the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, the Pac-10 Conference's Pitcher of the Year, and as Inside UCLA's Jon Gold wrote yesterday in an article on Bauer entitled, "Bauer named Collegiate Baseball POY", the starter, "...has thrown eight consecutive complete games, including nine overall this season and 14 in his three-year collegiate career," while, "establish[ing] UCLA's career records this season in strikeouts (446), wins (33) and innings pitched (364.1)."
It's the workload that has some concerned though, as both ESPN.com's Mr. Keown and his colleague Jeff Sackman have written. Mr. Sackman, in an article entitled, "Statistical red flags in MLB draft", writes that while, "Bauer's statistical profile is bulletproof," and the right-hander, "hasn't yet shown any signs of wear," he still thinks, "his workload is alarming,":
"Maybe he is one of the rare hurlers who can hold up to the workload of 130 pitches every time out. But for a pitcher from a major program in the 21st century, we're operating in uncharted territory."
Will D.C. GM Mike Rizzo, Scouting Director Kris Kline and Asst. GM Roy Clark take a chance on Trevor Bauer? He's definitely on their radar. The Nationals' General Manager reportedly saw him pitch recently as he traveled the country watching prospects. But within the last few minutes, as I wrote this last paragraph, both FOXSports.com writer Frank Piliere (on Twitter @FrankPiliere) and ESPN.com's Keith Law (in his latest mock draft) have matched the Nationals up with high school outfielder Bubba Starling. Monday is going to be interesting...