If Arizona's cadre of scouts wanted to see Trevor Bauer work his way into, and more importantly, out of a jam, Bauer provided them with a few sticky situations in his Double-A debut Sunday evening.
And he got out of them in the manner you might expect of the No. 3 overall selection in the June Draft.
Bauer completed a career-high five scoreless innings and, despite allowing a runner in scoring position in four of them, departed with the lead in the BayBears' 5-4 victory over the Mississippi Braves on Sunday night.
Bauer struck out eight, issued one walk and scattered five singles. He made 71 pitches before exiting the game. Reliever Wes Roemer yielded four runs over the sixth and seventh frames.
"It seemed like I had a runner in scoring position every time -- before I even walked out of the field," said Bauer, who performed his typical hour-long pregame routine, peaking by lobbing the ball fair pole to fair pole. "I knew eventually that was going to bite me. I did enough to wiggle out of it tonight, but that's not [always] going to happen."
The 20-year-old right-hander walked the first batter of the game, Mycal Jones, on four pitches, and yielded Dan Nelson's leadoff single in the second inning. Both Jones and Nelson stole second, but were left stranded.
"The running game is something I need to work on," he said. "Most of the stolen bases are off me. I'm not giving my catcher a chance."
Bauer also allowed the Braves' first hitter in the third to reach. Jose Lugo struck an infield single past the mound and later advanced to second on Donnell Linares' own infield knock.
The heralded starter encountered the most trouble in his fifth and final inning: The Braves loaded the bases without anyone out when Lugo reached on the BayBears' second fielding error and Jones and Willie Cabrera singled into the outfield. How did Bauer respond? He struck out Linares on four pitches, then induced Ed Lucas' inning-ending double play ball.
"I looked up and saw bases loaded with no outs and said, 'This is a fun position to be in. How did I find myself here?'" he said. "They turned it for me, which was much appreciated."
In his first nine innings as a pro, spread over three appearances at Class A Advanced Visalia, the 20-year-old right-hander struck out 17 and held opponents to a .200 batting average. He completed two scoreless innings in his debut on July 30, four days after signing his contract. In his final outing for the Rawhide on Tuesday, he set then-career highs in innings (four) and strikeouts (eight).
He has struck out 25 batters in 14 innings.
"I just think hitters haven't seen me much. I'm not sure if it's my stuff or if I'm new," said the Golden Spikes Award winner, who fanned 203 at UCLA this past season. "I'm making improvements from start to start, which is what I look at. I am starting to locate stuff better. Tonight, I was no longer searching for my slider, which was nice. It was [breaking] later and sharper."
Bauer said the plan is to stay on turn in Mobile's five-man rotation. The BayBears are off Monday, so he would next pitch Aug. 20 in Jacksonville. That is, if he isn't rerouted because of a potential big league callup, which grows likelier the longer Arizona holds onto first place in the National League West.
"That'd be a great honor, something I am working toward," he said. "If I get called up, great. If not, fine, I have to get better everyday."
Mobile's Marc Krauss broke a 4-4 tie, singling home Taylor Harbin in the eighth against Benino Pruneda (2-7).