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Prospect Previews: Prospect of Monte Cristo

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“Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine. Then the fates will know you as we know you: as Albert Mondego, the man.”

This offseason, Trevor Bauer was traded in a three-team deal with the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians. This coming after only about a year and half after the Diamondbacks selected him with the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 draft. And while the return for Bauer was questionable at best, the move to trade him in the first place was perhaps even more of a head-scratcher.

File Photo: Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer

File Photo: Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer

After all, his upside and polish would have potentially made him a very valuable commodity for the Diamondbacks–especially for the price. But the team apparently had had enough of him. They charged him with treason and shipped him off to the Chateau d’if (or Cleveland in this case).

Now I realize that Bauer was probably not without fault; he is by most accounts a very stubborn player– we all know about his famed long toss program that he refuses to abandon, and he certainly did not perform well when given a chance at the major league level, but shouldn’t the team have given him longer to prove himself? I don’t know about you guys, but this situation reeks of betrayal to me.

And while the Diamondbacks were busy committing betrayal, I’m guessing there were one or two (or a hundred) dynasty teams that turned their back on the polarizing prospect as well.

But should you have had such a quick hook on Bauer–or any prospect for that matter?

Not every prospect is Stephen Strasburg or Mike Trout. Not every prospect, after getting his call to the show, dominates from the moment he sets foot on the diamond. It more often than not takes time for the player to adjust to the better competition. And that time requires patience from us dynasty owners. Patience, that very few of us have.

File Photo:  Greg Fiume/Getty Images

File Photo: Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Very little, if at all, has changed with Bauer’s case except for location. Does he have work to do? Absolutely, but he still posses tremendous upside and could very well still become a valuable dynasty asset–perhaps even by this year.

To begin, Bauer still brings to the table 4 potential plus pitches that help him to miss a lot of bats. This is evidenced by having a K% no lower than 22% at any professional level he’s pitched at. His fastball sits 92-95 and can touch higher when he needs it to. His curveball is a knee-buckler, and his change up is an advanced pitch that shows good fade. He will also flash a nasty slider, but is not as consistent with it as he is with his other pitches.

Another thing in his favor is his “rubber arm”. Bauer has pitched a total of 171.1 innings over the past year and half in the Diamondback’s organization. He also pitched a total of 373.1 innings over the course of his 3 seasons at UCLA. And he has remained relatively healthy throughout. He has been extremely durable, and the quality of his stuff has not waned despite logging some serious innings.

File Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

File Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Also, moving to the American League may not be as bad a move as many think. Yes he’ll face tougher lineups, and yes he will now have to deal with facing a DH instead of facing a hopeless pitcher, but according to ESPN’s 2012 MLB Park Factors, he’s moving to a much more pitcher-friendly park. Power is suppressed much more at Progressive Field than it is at Chase Field. That should pay dividends as he learns the in’s and out’s of being a big-league pitcher.

File Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

File Photo: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

And looking at his small major league sample–though still pretty bad–there are a few positive factors I believe we can take away that may give us some hope for him moving forward.

  1. As stated earlier, he will miss a lot of bats. He struck out 17 batters in his 16.1 innings
  2. He had a BAA(batting average against) of .222, so when he was attacking hitters, they weren’t to successful against him
  3. He had a LOB% of 59.5 %. You gotta think that will get back to the low 80′s that he averaged in the minor leagues.
  4. He had a Ground Ball% of 45.5% and a Fly Ball% of 29.5%. That should provide some hope that he should be able to keep most balls on the ground going forward.

Obviously 16.1 innings is a VERY small sample, but there are some encouraging signs. However, his greatest flaw was on display on the biggest stage. He struggled mightily with his command and control, and would often, instead of trusting his stuff and attacking hitters in the zone, would try to get them to chase poor pitches out of the zone. That may have worked in college, or the lower levels of the minor leagues, but major league hitters know to lay off those types of pitches. Hopefully there will be a crazy, old dude somewhere in Cleveland that can teach him to be more confident in his arsenal, and will help him with his command and control. And maybe teach him that the strongest pitcher doesn’t necessarily always win. It is speed! Speed of hand…speed of mind.

The bottom line is he must improve his command and control if he wants to achieve big-league success, but that can be taught. His strikeout ability however, is not something that can be taught. And as long as he’s still missing bats, then he will always have the ability to be a very good–and possibly elite–fantasy pitcher. That may eventually be out of the bullpen, but still very good none the less.

Will this tale of betrayal end in revenge? Will he make Arizona regret trading him? If you betrayed him, will he make you rue the day you cast him off your team?

What happens next is entirely up to Bauer, because baseball is a storm. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be sent down to the minor’s the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. He must look into that storm and shout at the hitters like he did at UCLA. Do your worst, for I will do mine. Then the fates will know him as we know him: as Trevor Bauer, the star.

Luke Taylor
Dynasty Sports Empire
@DSEmpire_Luke

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