On Tuesday September 18th I was able to watch Diamondbacks prospect Trevor Bauer pitch in the Triple-A National Championship.
I won't bother with the entire report, because A.) the book is out on Bauer, and B.) his velocity was down because of fatigue.
I noticed a couple of things though that I thought were worth discussing that could hinder him, hence the reason for this fanpost.
First off- the stuff is legit. He throws a fastball that he cuts, 2-seams, and sinks with good late life, that when coupled with his normal plus velocity should be an easy plus major league offering. His second best pitch when I saw him was his change-up, throwing it with excellent arm-action and even occasional split-action. He threw a slurvey breaking pitch at 79-81 mph, that is a below average to average offering. His final pitch (sorry, no reverse sliders) was a classic overhand 12-6 curve, that flashed strong plus potential.
The issue with Bauer for me- the only issue keeping him from being an easy #2- is that he tips his pitches at times. The arm-action on his change-up is fantastic and it is a near perfect imitation of his arm on a fastball, but he tipped off his slider by releasing it low, and his curve by releasing it high.
(vs LHH) (vs RHH)
As one can see from the above small sample of release points on Bauer, he tips his curveball badly to each handed hitter. Against righties the only pitch he tips is the curve, but he brings it from the aforementioned extreme over-the-top angle that will make it easy for hitters to pick up.
Lefties on the other hand (pun intended), he was a mess versus. As one can see in this extremely small sample of pitchf/x data, he released every pitch from a different point in his brief MLB stint. Although this is not something I noticed when watching him, his violent delivery could lead to erratic release points such as the chart above. I worry about start-to-start consistency, especially late in the year.
Expanding on the above point, the only pitcher in baseball with similar mechanics shows late-season attrition. Tim Lincecum’s career month-by-month FIPs go as follows: 2.44, 3.19, 3.03, 3.22, 3.44, 3.08. Although not a perfect correlation, there is a definite upward trend there. He also struggles with release points, as one can see in the charts below.
(vs LHH) (vs RHH)
This isn’t to say that Bauer can’t be an effective starter or repeat his delivery. He certainly has the athleticism to be able to repeat his delivery and get his release points down. The concern here is that right now he isn’t MLB-ready, with the arm-slots and mechanics being a serious concern. Trevor Bauer is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, and if everything goes right he will be at the top of the Diamondbacks rotation for years to come.
All pitchf/x data is courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net, and all stats courtesy of Fangraphs.