UCLA's Trevor Bauer Rewriting The Record Books
With his likable candor, dirty hat, and funky idiosyncrasies, Trevor Bauer won over all sorts of fans and admirers during UCLA's run to the 2010 College World Series.
With his pinpoint command, deep arsenal of pitches, and dominating mentality, he is rewriting the UCLA record books.
Bauer, a junior from Valencia, Calif., has joined classmate Gerrit Cole to lead one of the nation's most dominant rotations.
While Cole is projected to be a top-three pick in this June's draft by most scouting services, Bauer continues to rule the college ranks. Most scouts project Bauer to be a mid-to-late first-round draft pick.
Through his April 16 start against Arizona - a run-of-the-mill 10-strikeout shutout victory - Bauer is 7-1 with a 1.47 ERA, with 110 strikeouts in 73 and two-thirds innings pitched.
Along the way, he's established his right arm as one of the most valuable in the history of the Bruin program.
The first record to fall was the career strikeout mark. Bauer fanned 14 in a March 26 victory over USC that upped his total to 329 and pushed him past Alex Sanchez for first on the all-time list at UCLA.
Three weeks later, a win over Arizona vaulted Bauer over Sanchez once again - this time for the UCLA career wins record, with 28.
"I come out there with the mentality that I'm going to strike everybody out," Bauer said. "It helps me go out there and attack people and be aggressive."
That approach earned him nationwide acclaim at the end of last season, when the junior garnered two of the Bruins' three wins at the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Bauer struck out 24 hitters in 15 innings against Florida and TCU.
But there was also the hat. Bauer's cap looks like it belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame - not as much for the accomplishments of its wearer as its worn, greenish-gray hue.
There's also the quirkiness. Bauer's warmup routine generally involves a long toss session that spans the entire outfield, as well as a variety of arm exercises. Before every inning, he throws a violent warmup pitch by taking a running start from behind the mound.
Of course, Bauer has been quick to shoot down any notions that the uncleaned hat is the byproduct of any superstition.
"It's not good luck, it's not really a routine, or anything like that," he said. "I get one, and if it fits I stick with it. It takes who knows how long to get the stupid corners right on one those things."
Getting the corners right seems to be an issue that doesn't extend to his pitching. The right-hander - a svelte 6-foot-2, 185-pounder - utilizes a dynamic delivery with plenty of torque and lots of moving parts that evokes comparisons to San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum, whom Bauer admires.
Bauer features a pair of breaking balls and a change-up that complement his low-to-mid 90s fastball. His stuff is electric enough to make Major League scouts drool.
The intense structure of his regimen, however, has some questioning his adaptability to professional coaching.
"Is his reliance on the routine physical, or is it mental, perhaps a way to try to control his environment every time out?" wrote Keith Law of ESPN Scouts Inc., after watching the junior pitch in early March.
"You might not ask these questions for a fifth- or 10th-round talent, but Bauer has shown first-round stuff, and the scrutiny he receives will be commensurate with his on-field abilities."
Those abilities are serving Bauer just fine in college. After admittedly struggling a bit with his fastball command early in the 2011 campaign, he ironed out some mechanical issues and quickly reverted back to his dominant, aggressive self.
"That's just the kind of way I've been brought up to pitch," Bauer said. "Anytime I can get a win for the team, that's more important than striking people out."
He's done a stellar job of doing both. Together with Cole, who has often been equally as dominant, Bauer will be counted on to help pitch the Bruins back to Omaha.
"We feed off them," UCLA coach John Savage said of his pair of aces. "When they're going good and they're pitching the way they're capable of pitching, certainly there's confidence throughout the dugout. We really thrive off the way Gerrit and Trevor pitch."
As critical as they are to the success of the Bruins, Cole and Bauer might be almost as important to each other. Good luck getting either guy to admit to as much, but there certainly seems to be a good deal of friendly competition involved as the two teammates rewrite the history of UCLA baseball.
And while it may not be his primary focus, Bauer takes a good measure of pride in seeing his name at the top of the record books.
"It's kind of a validation of all the hard work I've put into it and all the studying that I've done," Bauer said.
Now about that hat.