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Cleveland Indians 2013 in Review: Trevor Bauer (Is he still a future ace?)

Trevor Bauer was acquired by the Indians last December. He was a divisive figure then, and remains one today.

David Banks

Trevor Bauer

Right-handed starting pitcher

Age: 22

Acquired: traded from Arizona on December 11, 2012

Contract status: not eligible for arbitration until after 2016 season at soonest

Trevor Bauer was a star in college. He was also known for a unique warm-up routine, which involved (among other things) throwing from one foul pole to the other, and for being, let's say, stuck in his ways. "This is what I do," he toldSports Illustrated, "It's what I believe in, and if you let me stick with it, I'll pitch in the major leagues for 20 years." The Diamondbacks took him with the #3 pick in 2011. He did well for them in Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. Arizona called him up for four midseason starts that year, which did not go so well, but he was still just 21, and scouts remained high on his future.

Meanwhile though, he reportedly did not get along well with some of his teammates, including catcher Miguel Montero. On the first MLB pitch of his career, Bauer waved off Montero's signs, the first of multiple incidents that troubled Montero. Arizona had cooled on Bauer just one year after drafting him, but it still came as something of a surprise when the Indians were able to acquire him in December. Not long after, Montero told reporters:

"When you get a guy like that and he thinks he's got everything figured out, it's just tough to commence and try to get on the same page... He never wanted to listen... Good luck to Carlos Santana."

Bauer entered 2013 with a bit of his shine worn off, but still ranked in among the top 20 MLB prospects by most major scouting outlets (#14 by Baseball America, #17 by Bauer was viewed as likely to be called up in late June, to delay his service clock, and give coaches in Cleveland's system some time to work with him. Instead, when would-be 5th starter Scott Kazmir wasn't yet ready at the start of the season, Bauer was called up to make his Indians debut on April 6. He walked 7 in 5 innings.

He was then sent to Columbus. In early May, he was called up again. He pitched a bit better in two starts for Cleveland that month, then went back to Triple-A. He was very hit-or-miss, in four of eight starts, he allowed 4 runs or more, while in the other four, he allowed 1 run or fewer. He didn't walk anyone while throwing 7 shutout innings on June 8. Three weeks later, with the Indians looking at a doubleheader, he was again brought up. The game was a complete disaster for Bauer.

Before the game began, pitching coach Mickey Callaway told manager Terry Francona not to be surprised if Bauer started the game by pitching out of the stretch (normally done only with runners on base). Sure enough, Bauer did just that. He's said to have felt more comfortable that way, and thought he'd do better. He could hardly have done worse. More than half an hour after he threw his first pitch, Bauer threw his 49th and final of the afternoon. He'd allowed 5 runners to score, while retiring just two hitters. Afterwards, Bauer didn't seem all that concerned:

"They hit some good pitches. With the exception of one of the home runs, everything was down and on the corners of the plate. Some of them were even off the plate. It's just one of those days."

That was the last time Bauer appeared in an Indians uniform in 2013. He made another ten starts in Columbus, with mixed results. On the one hand, he allowed more than 3 earned runs just once in those ten games. On the other hand, his strikeout rate fell to 6.16 per 9 innings, while his walks climbed to 5.84 per 9 innings. His BB/9 of 5.41 for the season was third-worst in the International League among 66 pitchers with 70+ innings. Neither of the two pitchers below him is considered a real prospect.

Bauer is still considered a prospect, but he's going to fall out of the top 50, and maybe out of the top 100 entirely. I'm not a prospects experts, but it wouldn't surprise me if he also fell from his perch as the top pitching prospect in the Indians' system (Cody Anderson had a fantastic season and could take over that distinction). If Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir both depart this offseason, Bauer will be given every opportunity to compete for a spot in the rotation come Spring Training. He's still only 22, but there are real concerns now about his willingness and/or ability to make the adjustments needed in order for him to make good on the promise he once showed.

Year Age Team Lg W L ERA GS IP ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2013 22 Columbus AAA 6 7 4.15 22 121.1 1.582 8.8 1.0 5.4 7.9 1.45
2013 22 CLE AL 1 2 5.29 4 17.0 73 1.824 7.9 1.6 8.5 5.8 0.69

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