In 2010, UCLA sophomore Trevor Bauer asserted himself as one of the best pitchers in college baseball, posting a 3.02 ERA and nation-leading 165 strikeouts en route to being a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. In 2011, he performed even better, lowering his ERA to 1.25 and fanning 203, again topping the nation and setting a Pac-10 record. He was named the Golden Spikes Award winner, Collegiate Baseball's National Player of the Year and the Pac-10 Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Following his breakout season, Bauer was selected third overall by the D-backs in the Draft. He pitched well in three short starts for Class A Advanced Visalia, compiling a 3.00 ERA and striking out 17 in nine innings. He then moved on to Double-A Mobile, where he experienced his share of struggles. The 20-year-old right-hander's ERA rose to 7.56, though he did fan 26 in 16 2/3 frames.
In the Southern League playoffs, Bauer's inconsistencies continued. He yielded seven runs in just three innings in Game 4 of the semifinals but then tossed five one-run frames as he won the clinching game of the Championship Series.
With his lean frame, high-torque delivery and impressive strikeout numbers in college, Bauer has garnered comparisons to Tim Lincecum. He further breaks the mold of conventional pitchers by throwing much more often than most and doing all of his training without weights.
MiLB.com recently caught up with Bauer to talk about his first taste of the pros, his unusual workout regimen and what he does to relax.
MiLB.com: You were taken third overall in June. What was that like?
Trevor Bauer: I was kind of upset at that time because [UCLA] lost the night before and got knocked out of Regionals, so that kind of [stunk]. The next day, I was drafted and that was cool. I came down somewhere in the middle about a week later. It [stunk] having my college career end that way, but I was extremely excited to be given the opportunity to keep playing baseball. I was definitely excited. I never thought I would go that high. Growing up, you dream of playing big league baseball, but it's never a reality to say you're drafted in the first round. You just hope for that chance. It was pretty awesome.
MiLB.com: You won about every college honor in 2011, including the Golden Spikes Award. Did you expect that type of season out of yourself?
Bauer: I didn't expect to win the awards, but I did expect that type of season out of myself. I felt like I was in a place after my sophomore season, where I had a good foundation to springboard myself to an even better year. I really devoted myself to it as much as I possibly could with school and homework and all that goes with being a college athlete. I expected myself to have a breakout season.
MiLB.com: You pitched for the Mobile BayBears down the stretch and won the clinching game of the Championship Series. That must have been a nice end to your first pro season.
Bauer: It definitely was, especially after having two poor outings leading up to that. It kind of stunk having those outings because I got to a team that's been working all year to win the Double-A championship and I join them late and, especially a bad playoff outing, I feel like, "Oh no. I left it up for these guys that have done a great job all season." That was a bad feeling, but Charles Brewer picked me up in the fifth game of the first series and I turned in strong performance in the second series. It was definitely good to end on a strong personal note and a great team note.
MiLB.com: Obviously, the transition from college to the pros is pretty drastic. How did your lifestyle change after starting your Minor League career?
Bauer: I enjoyed the Minor League lifestyle better. I didn't have to wake up in the morning and go to class. I felt like I could just devote all my energy to baseball, which is really nice. In college, you devote as much as you can, but you still have other responsibilities: class, homework, gotta do this, gotta do that.
I definitely enjoyed the lifestyle more and felt like I had free time -- that it wasn't so jam-packed and everything was filled up. I could actually wake up and do some stuff that I enjoy doing. I lived a more relaxed and more quiet lifestyle. There's a lot going on in college and not a whole lot going on other than baseball in the Minors. I'm a pretty laid-back guy, so I enjoyed that.
MiLB.com: I understand your workout routine is different from many other pitchers. Can you talk about your regimen a little bit?
Bauer: I don't work out in the weight room. I do mostly strength and conditioning stuff that's focused on moving quick and body mass. I have to generate velocity by creating tension in the body and releasing it all in sequence, getting a summation of force rather than brute strength it. All my workouts are focused on that, building up strength and fast-twitch movements.
In terms of my throwing program, I throw every day. I do a lot of work on how to properly accelerate my arm, so I'm putting as little stress as possible on it. The great thing about that is it allows you to bounce back quicker. I do long toss the day after a start, and I can do two bullpens in between starts. And it just helps a lot of things. It keeps your pitches in shape, because you get to throw more often and get a better feel for them. You get better arm strength and can work on mechanics. It's definitely a very complex throwing program, but I do a lot of study on how to throw as healthily as I possibly can -- that really helps.
MiLB.com: And you talked to teams about your routine before the Draft?
Bauer: I expressed the concern that I found something that has worked for me, and I'd like to go to a team that was going to try to help improve me and enhance what I already do instead of work to change me. That's how I expressed it to teams. I was looking for a marriage of sorts. I was willing to go part way if they were. I wanted to make an agreement instead of them saying, "This is how we do things and this is how you're going to do them or get out."
All the talks I had with teams were very much in that vein. There were some reports of me telling teams not to draft me, and that really wasn't true. I was just kind of interviewing teams just to figure out philosophies and get as much information as we possibly could to be as well prepared to negotiate with whoever.
MiLB.com: You said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that you aren't a natural-born athlete, you were made. Can you describe what you meant?
Bauer: I'm not fast. I've never been able to run fast. I can't jump. I can't really do a whole lot of athletic stuff. I can't shoot a basketball, I never played football. The stuff that you would consider an athlete would do growing up, I never really had that. My dad ran long-distance stuff. I think I inherited a lot of those genes. The slow, good endurance, but not a whole lot of explosive power. So pretty much everything I have has been trained and worked on, and it's been a conscious effort to become more athletic as opposed to natural athleticism.
MiLB.com: A lot of people have compared you to Tim Lincecum. Do you think of yourself as being in that mold or as a completely separate pitcher?
Bauer: In some ways I am. I think mechanically I modeled myself off of him when I was changing my mechanics around. I've studied the principles he uses and how he goes about certain things, and I applied same principles to my delivery. Mechanically, I'd say we're similar, and our ideology is similar too. But I think there's also a lot of difference in how we attack hitters, and we've got completely different movement toward batters. Nobody's ever going to throw a baseball exactly like someone else. There are similarities, but I'm sure you can find similarities between just about any two pitchers.
MiLB.com: You're with a National League team, and that means you'll be hitting every once in a while. You got a taste of that last season when you walked twice and struck out once in three plate appearances. How would you rate yourself with the bat?
Bauer: I think on a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably in the negative numbers. I always had a joke with my dad that I was mired in an eight-year slump. I played shortstop when I was younger, and I was really good with the glove. I was good defensively, but I hated hitting. If I could've just been a defensive replacement, I would've been super happy.
MiLB.com: Is there anything in particular you do to relax during the season?
Bauer: I do play video games every now and then. I played a lot in college, but kind of got over that and didn't like wasting that much time that doesn't give me anything in return. I'm getting into music a lot, listening and writing songs and making beats. That's kind of my hobby that I do in my free time when I'm not working out or studying pitching. I enjoy watching UFC -- I'm a big UFC fan. And I enjoy college basketball. Basketball is a passion in life more than anything else. I live and die by [Duke's team] every year, so that's a knock on me given that I went to UCLA. But I've been a Duke fan my whole life. Overall, I enjoy living a relaxed lifestyle and enjoy playing baseball.