Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 4/13/13
By Tony LastoriaFOX Sports Ohio It's hard not to get excited over the potential of Indians' right-handed starter Trevor Bauer. Since the Indians picked him up in a wild three-team deal this past December, there has been a lot of hype surrounding Bauer's unique personality and the type of pitcher he will end become. But as Bauer displayed in Tampa last Saturday, he is still an unfinished product - not quite ready for prime time. This does not mean that Bauers bright star has dimmed; but he has a few things he needs to focus to become more consistent and perform at the high level expected of him. In his first start of the season the 22-year old bobbed and weaved his way through five innings, fortunate to only allow three runs. He gave up just two hits, but struggled with his command, issuing seven walks. Bauers emotions were likely on overload in the first start of the season, which may have had an effect on his command. He has struggled with fastball command in the early stages of his professional career. However, a freak rib cage injury to lefty Scott Kazmir just hours before the start of the season resulted in the Indians being forced to have Bauer open the season in the starting rotation. Bauer's debut outing showed exactly why the Indians originally had him in the minors to open the season. A key piece in the deal that shipped out former outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds, the Indians wanted Bauer to open the season at Triple-A Columbus so he could be left alone in a non-pressure environment. There is something to be said about allowing a player to relax in his first few starts, unlike opening the season on the Major League roster. The Indians believe that Bauer has a chance to be a front of the rotation pitcher, as a good number two starter or potentially an ace. He has a near-Major League ready arm and could be a key part of their rotation for at least the next half-decade. Bauer has a deep arsenal of pitches with three that are considered at least above average. He throws several different variations of each pitch, always experimenting with new grips and mechanics to give them different looks. He features a 92-95 MPH four-seam fastball that touches 98 MPH when he lets it loose, and he gets good swing and miss on it due to velocity and movement. The pitch that makes Bauer effective is his curveball, with good top to bottom break to it. It is his best pitch he throws and is a put away offering. He also has a very good slider and a solid changeup and splitter. Bauer constantly tweaks his pitches and comes up with his own - he has a reverse slider that breaks in on right-handed hitters. Another pitch he uses is called The Bird - is a pitch he throws with the middle finger raised that gets more side to side action than his normal curveball. What makes Bauer so unique is his unusual understanding of pitching mechanics. He is a religious follower of biomechanics as he constantly studies it, to have a better understanding of what his muscular, joint and skeletal actions of his body are doing. The stuff is certainly there to be an effective front of the rotation workhorse, and he certainly is intelligent beyond his experiences, but even before the start of spring training the Indians knew they needed to fine tune different areas of his game. The biggest area Bauer needs to show improvement is with fastball and curveball command. It is about refining his strike throwing ability and being more efficient with his pitches, often the separator between a great pitcher and an okay one. Bauer is young and has the aptitude to improve - the clubhouse feeling is with a good two to three months in the minors, he will make the necessary improvements and be prepared to come up to Cleveland permanently. Bauers first start was forgettable considering the results, but there were some encouraging signs as well. He showed toughness on the mound and was not rattled, despite the walks. Bottom line, Bauer dug deep when he needed to, and was able to limit the damage. That ability to halt big innings and keep his composure on the mound is a rare attribute. In the end, Bauer showed his youth and inexperience. He showed that the Indians were right to assign him to the minors to open the season. There will continue to be some growing pains with him as the season progresses and whenever he is inserted into the Indians rotation full time. But if Bauers true talents show as expected, he has a chance to be one of the next big time young pitchers in the game - and hopefully a Cleveland Indian for a long time.
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