Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/25/12

Precocious Trevor Bauer appears set to make his major league debut this week.

As accomplished as he is quirky, top prospect Bauer is expected to start for the Diamondbacks against Atlanta at Turner Field on Thursday. The team made no announcement before leaving on a road trip Sunday night, but FOXSportsArizona.com said Bauer has been chosen to start, citing sources with knowledge of the D-backs' thinking.

Bauer, the third player taken in the 2011 draft, is 11-1 with a 2.23 ERA in 16 minor league starts, equally split between Class AA Mobile and Class AAA Reno. He leads the minor leagues with 116 strikeouts after getting five of his eight outs by strikeout against Salt Lake on Sunday. Bauer was pulled in the third inning after throwing 50 pitches Sunday, an outing that could serve as a normal between-starts throwing session before a Thursday start. He was not removed for health-related reasons.

The D-backs had an opening in the starting rotation after left-hander Joe Saunders was placed on the disabled list Saturday with shoulder inflammation. Saunders was scheduled to start Friday but was scratched when he felt tightness while warming up in the bullpen and was replaced by long reliever Josh Collmenter. Because of Monday's off day, Ian Kennedy could have pitched Thursday on four days' rest, but manager Kirk Gibson said Kennedy would get an extra day and start Friday. Gibson also said he wanted to keep Collmenter as the long man.

Bauer, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, set several UCLA career records and broke Mark Prior's Pac-12 season strikeout record last season with a unique program that includes a lot of throwing. He plays long toss up to 360 feet every day except the day before he pitches, often going foul pole to foul pole in the final stages. His pregame routine takes about an hour and includes stretching exercises and the use of a pliable pole.

He has taken the minor leagues by storm despite being on a pitch count that has kept him at about 100 pitches per outing. Bauer is averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and opponents are hitting .220 against him. He has given up 75 walks and 48 hits.

Bauer threw seven shutout innings and tied a career high with 11 strikeouts in a 4-0 victory over Tucson on June 8 before hitting a bit of a rough patch, allowing 15 hits and six runs -- including a home run by rehabbing Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki -- in his next two outings.

He struck out 11 for the first time in a 2-1 victory over Oklahoma City on May 18. He was 7-1 with a 1.68 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings at Mobile before being promoted to Reno on May 17.

"That guy has some fire in his belly and he is a perfectionist, which is going to make him successful," Reno's manager, longtime major-leaguer Brett Butler, told FOXSportsArizona.com when the Aces were in Tucson two weeks ago.

"Could he go up and win a ballgame in the big leagues? There is no doubt in my mind he could. He's got big-league stuff right now. The one thing that he needs to be doing is, he needs to manage the game a little bit better."

Bauer would make his home debut July 3 against San Diego if the D-backs stay in rotation and Saunders has not returned. Saunders expected to being playing catch later this week and will not travel with the team on its road trip to Atlanta and Milwaukee. He is eligible to return from the disabled list July 2.

Gibson spoke generally about Bauer when the decision was made to place Saunders on the disabled list Saturday.

"Is he ready? How do you know?" Gibson said. "There are certain things he does great. We all know he has great stuff. His last two starts, he has had 100 pitches in five innings, so ... if I was Trevor, I can tell you, when I was a big-leaguer, I would argue that I would get better with better competition. I think that's how he probably thinks. I don't know that we know that answer."

The D-backs might soon find out.

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