If you follow MLB you might know that one of this week's biggest stories was the debut of Arizona Diamondbacks top prospect Trevor Bauer. I met Trevor when his inflatable inner tube bumped into mine while floating down a lazy river at a resort in the Bahamas last year. Our two groups struck up a casual chat and after the "what's your name, where are you from, what do you do" introductory questions, we realized we had a mutual interest in baseball. He mentioned that he had been drafted in that summer's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks. I wasn't initially impressed because this guy could be pulling a fast one on me, right? Plus many players get drafted in one of the 50 rounds only to get lost in the black hole that is minor league baseball. And drafted as a pitcher? Do you know how many pitchers each team drafts compared to position players? Last year the Diamondbacks drafted 28 pitchers and 24 players to fill the other eight spots on a field.
So I did what any curious person would do in our age of technology. I Googled him. Much to my surprise, not only was Trevor Bauer drafted in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, but he was taken in the first round as the third overall pick for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Okay, so this kid is the real deal. But more importantly he was honest and humble. Thus, our friendship began.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled to find out earlier this week that Bauer's Major League debut was going to be in Atlanta against my hometown Braves on Thursday. I immediately secured my tickets behind home plate so as not to miss a second of watching one of the game's top prospects compete at the highest level against future Hall of Famers like Chipper Jones and Brian McCann.
After signing last July, Bauer has quickly raced through the Diamondbacks minor league organization. He started this season with the Double-A Mobile BayBears, and after eight starts he was promoted to Triple-A Reno. He didn't cease to impress and racked up 116 strikeouts over 93 innings with an overall ERA of 2.23. Bauer, who turned 21 in January, was looking to continue his success at the Major League level on Thursday night.
"It was pretty much just like a normal game for me. I wasn't nervous which I was a little bit surprised about. I did a pretty good job of treating it like any other game and staying focused. It was fun looking around and staring off at the stadium though. It just kept going on and on," Bauer said when I talked to him after the Diamondback's 3-2 victory Thursday night.
He got off to a great start during the first two innings but felt some lingering discomfort in his groin that forced an early exit after the fourth inning. "My mechanics are heavily dependent on my lower half. I use a lot of torque in my delivery so when I can't rotate, I can't get nearly as far out in front towards the plate to deliver the pitch. My release point changes, and the snap on my breaking ball changes. Everything is completely different. When you're used to throwing with one mechanical model and you have to use a different one it's a struggle to locate anything."
In the four innings pitched Bauer gave up five hits, two earned runs, and three walks with three strikeouts. All in all it was a very promising outing, and despite the groin issue, Bauer felt confident in his ability to give his team a chance to win. "I know that when I'm healthy and things are going well I can compete at the big league level and get people out. I'm going to try to do what I can to keep the groin healthy and stay out there longer next time."
And what was it like to pitch against a legend like Chipper Jones? "I grew up a Braves fan so I watched Chipper play a lot and it was neat actually going up against him. I don't even know the word to describe it, but it was pretty fun," Bauer said.
To make the night even more special, Bauer's family flew in from the Los Angeles area to witness his monumental moment. "It was definitely a big importance to me. I'm very close with my family so it was nice to have them there. It was cool to be able to share the moment with the people who have been there for me."
I may be a little biased, but if you're a baseball fan, be on the lookout for Trevor Bauer the rest of this season and many seasons to come. His teammates and coaches expect big things from him, and he expects big things from himself. "My teammates and coaches tried to make it as easy on me as possible to go and pitch and make it comfortable for me. And I just want to be a positive role model for the next generation of baseball players." He works hard, truly enjoys studying the physics of pitching a baseball, and has a won't-take-no-for-an-answer mentality. If anything, get this guy on your fantasy team now. If things progress like they have been for Bauer, you won't be disappointed.