SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Forget actual baseball. One of the best shows in spring training this season has come while watching Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Trevor Bauer complete his unorthodox "long toss" warmup routine before a game.
It really is something to watch. Bauer, a UCLA graduate who was selected with the third overall pick in last year's draft, starts by throwing to a partner just a few feet away. They gradually move farther apart as the warmup goes on with Bauer eventually throwing the baseball from foul pole to foul pole. The partner, meanwhile, needs to enlist a helper to relay the ball back to Bauer, who is standing approximately 450-475 feet away. Bauer says the long toss helps him stay loose while reducing the risk of a major arm injury.
But as Rob Neyer suggested today, Bauer might also be in the territory of setting a world record if one of his throws was ever officially measured. A Canadian minor leaguer from the 1950s currently holds the mark with a throw of 445 feet and 10 inches.
Here's Bauer warming up before Wednesday's spring training game against the San Diego Padres at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
As our own Steve Henson noted when he profiled Bauer last year, the 21-year-old righthander began the unorthodox routine when he started attending Alan Jaeger's long toss camp at age 10. (Click here to watch Jaeger better explain the drill.) He graduated high school early and went onto attend UCLA where he studied mechanical engineering while starring for the Bruins on the mound. In three seasons at UCLA, Bauer went 34-8 with a 2.36 ERA and 460 strikeouts in 373 innings of work.
Knowing his classwork, it should probably come as no surprise that Bauer's delivery is often compared to Tim Lincecum's slingshot method and the two share a similar body type with Bauer listed at a slight 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds. Partly due to his extreme talent and partly due to the path that Lincecum blazed before him, scouts and prospect analysts are high on Bauer's potential.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo has him ranked as the ninth-best overall prospect in baseball.
Bauer has looked great this spring — he retired six out of six batters in his debut against the Rockies on March 3 — and he looked good again on Wednesday. He completed his long toss routine in the outfield after the national anthem was performed and then retired to the bullpen where he threw a couple of simulated innings. He then entered the game in relief to start the fourth inning and threw two innings of scoreless baseball, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three Padres batters. Bauer said he used every weapon in his six-pitch arsenal except his changeup.
Here's what Henson wrote about Bauer's repertoire last year:
He regularly touches 95 mph with his four-seam fastball, possesses a hellacious curveball that freezes hitters, and also throws a slider, split-finger, changeup and a pitch he calls a "reverse slider" that essentially is a screwball.
Bauer has only given up two earned runs in seven innings of work so far, but it remains unclear if he'll break camp with the team. His stuff would certainly seem to warrant a spot on the big league roster, but the D'Backs already have a solid rotation with Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Joe Saunders, Daniel Hudson and Josh Collmenter.
However, if and when someone goes down, Bauer is among the top candidates to take his spot. And when he does finally get that first start in the big leagues? It'll be worth getting to your seat on time to watch him prepare for it.