After the jump, a quick look at the newest member of the D-backs, with more to come later. UPDATED: Now that the Supplemental Round is over and Chafin's report is written up, I've found time to get back to this report and put up a more official (read: less repetitive) report on the #3 overall pick in today's Day One of the 2011 MLB Rule 4 Draft.
UCLA Junior RHP Trevor Bauer 15 Ks (vs. Oregon State) (via rkyosh007)
Trevor Bauer, RHP
Age: 20 years old
Keith Law's Top-100 Rank: 6
BA's Top-200 Rank: 5
Bauer was, the way I saw it, the most-talked about college player in this draft. It's not too hard to see why, to, with his combination of dominant numbers in the PAC-10, incredible workload at UCLA, and unusual combination of an intense fitness routine and unorthodox mechanics. Bauer set a PAC-10 record for strikeouts in a single season, breaking the record previously set by Mark Prior. How are these for some season stats: 136.2 IP, 1.25 ERA, 73 H, 203:36 K:BB, and 6 HR allowed. Scouts and draft pundits have pegged Bauer and second overall pick Danny Hultzen as the two players most likely to breeze through the minor leagues, and Bauer is expected to have a chance to compete for a big-league rotation spot with the D-backs as early as Opening Day 2012.
The stuff that Bauer works with is nothing short of phenomenal. He worked consistently in the mid-90s during college, but I could see him toning it down a mile per hour or two in pro ball for the sake of preserving his arm. His go-to pitch is what BA calls a plus to plus-plus curveball that is a devastating major-league-caliber out-pitch, also working with an above-average change-up, occasional slider or splitter, and a "reverse slider," a breaking ball that breaks to his arm side, which has also generated some plus ratings from scouts. So the final tally is an above-average-to-plus fastball, plus-plus curveball, plus screwball-thing, and above-average change-up. How's that for a repertoire? With upside of a top-end #2 starter, what's not to like about someone who can reach the big-leagues this quickly?
Well, the answer is that Bauer has been worked to death at UCLA. He's thrown nine straight complete games to finish the season, and has a regular regiment of long-toss and strength exercises that he goes through even on days he pitches. With all that work over the course of one season, it's hard to not be worried a bit about Bauer falling apart. His mechanics are unorthodox, with an old-school step-back progressing into a high kick and rapid core movement, generating a ton of torque from his abs, and finally an enormous stride with a smooth but long, very high, and very fast arm action, finishing well behind his plant leg. Additionally, if anybody has good reason for sporting unorthodox mechanics, it's Bauer, as he's a real student of pitching who has put in hours of research studying things "like biomechanics, effective velocity, and pitch tunneling" (link). I'm willing to defer to a guy who has put in that much work at figuring out the best way to utilize his body and pitch without injuring himself. If he can keep himself together, he'll be a big-league stud, plain and simple.
Video of Bauer pitching (this video shows multiple angles of Bauer's delivery):
For those interested, Bauer immediately jumps into the #2 spot on my D-backs system prospects list once he signs, just barely beaten out by Jarrod Parker, who I remain very bullish on. Yet even I will admit that the debate between Bauer and Parker for top dog in the system is a very close one, and compelling arguments can be made for either arm.