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Will Trevor Bauer be that Rare Player Who Goes from the Draft to the Majors in the Same Season? | August

Along with the thrill of the Diamondbacks moving into first place in the NL West this week, Diamondbacks' fans have another exciting development to follow right now - the progress of 1st Round pick Trevor Bauer. Bauer was the #3 overall selection in the June 2011 draft, was the first of the Top 9 picks to sign, and is still the only one of the Top 9 picks currently playing in the Minor Leagues. Bauer has now made three appearances for Class A Visalia in the California League, and his performance so far has fans wondering if a promotion to AA, or even to the Majors, is coming soon.

Here are Bauer's stats through his first three appearances in Visalia:

7/30 0 0 0.00 1 2.0 1 0 0 0 1 3 2.00 .143
8/4 0 1 6.00 1 3.0 2 2 2 1 3 6 3.00 .167
8/9 0 0 2.25 1 4.0 4 1 1 0 0 8 1.00 .250
Totals 0 1 3.00 3 9.0 7 3 3 1 4 17 1.75 .200

Bauer has been on a limited pitch count, as GM Kevin Towers does not want to overwork the young right-hander after a long college season that saw Bauer throw 137 IP for UCLA. The Diamondbacks have stated that they want to limit Bauer to around 30-40 IP this season. But the early results from Visalia have been so impressive that many feel Bauer could help the Diamondbacks out of the bullpen down the stretch against the Giants. This had actually been discussed by the organization when Bauer was signed in July. At that time, Jerry Dipoto, the team's executive Vice President for Scouting and Player Development, said "September is not unrealistic. It's a definite possibility. It's not something we promised him but it's something we've discussed. We believe it's possible. He believes it's possible." 

Reports out of Visalia say that Bauer has been throwing his fastball in the 95-97 mph range.  He has struck out 17 batters in his first 9 professional innings, or 17 out of 39 batters he has faced (43.6%). He is clearly expected to be moved up to AA Mobile soon, and if he continues to pitch well there, it would not be a surprise to see Bauer in the Majors for the last month of the season. He is already on the 40-Man roster as part of the Major League contract that he signed, so calling him up will not require major roster shuffling.

How often does a player go straight from the June draft to the Major Leagues in the same season? Well, it actually happened last season with White Sox reliever Chris Sale. But it is a pretty rare occurrence. Over the last 5 years, the only other pitcher to go from the draft to the Majors in the same season is Ross Detwiler, who was called by the Nationals in 2007 from A+ and threw 1 IP in the Majors.

Here is a summary of the college pitchers drafted over the last 5 years, and their journeys towards the Major Leagues.

Year Player College Draft Year Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
2011 (3) Trevor Bauer UCLA A+
2010 (5) Drew Pomeranz Mississippi - A+/AA
2010 (7) Matt Harvey UNC - A+/AA
2010 (11) Deck McGuire Ga. Tech - A+/AA
2010 (13) Chris Sale Florida GC A+/AAA/AL AL
2010 (16) Hayden Simpson So. Arkansas - Rk/A
2010 (21) Alex Wimmers Ohio State A+ Rk/A+
2009 (1) Stephen Strasburg SD State - AA/AAA/NL INJ/A+
2009 (7) Mike Minor Vanderbilt A AA/AAA/NL AAA/NL
2009 (8) Mike Leake Arizona St. - NL AAA/NL
2009 (10) Drew Storen Stanford A+/AA AA/AAA/NL NL
2009 (12) Aaron Crow IND A+/AA AL
2009 (15) Alex White UNC - A+/AA AA/AAA/AL
2009 (22) Kyle Gibson Missouri - A+/AA/AAA AAA
2009 (26) Eric Arnett Indiana Rk Rk/A Rk
2008 (4) Brian Matusz USD - A+/AA AL AAA/AL
2008 (19) Andrew Cashner TCU Rk/A-/A+ A+/AA AA/AAA/NL NL
2008 (20) Josh Fields Georgia - AA AA AA/AAA
2008 (21) Ryan Perry Arizona Rk/A+ AAA/AL AAA/AL AAA/AL
2008 (25) Christian Friedrich E. Kentucky A-/A A/A+ AA AA
2008 (26) Daniel Schlereth Arizona Rk/A AA/AAA/NL AAA/AL AAA/AL
2007 (1) David Price Vanderbilt - A+/AA/AAA/AL AAA/AL AL AL
2007 (4) Danny Moskos Clemson Rk/A- A+ AA AA/AAA AAA/NL
2007 (6) Ross Detwiler Missouri St. Rk/A+/NL A+ AA/AAA/NL AA/AAA/NL AAA/NL
2007 (8) Casey Weathers Vanderbilt A/A+ AA INJ A/A+ AA
2007 (19) Joe Savery Rice A- A+ AA/AAA AAA AA/AAA
2007 (23) Nick Schmidt Arkansas A INJ A/A+ A+ A+
2007 (25) Aaron Poreda U. San Fran. Rk A+/AA AA/AAA/AL AAA AAA
2007 (26) James Simmons UC-Riverside AA AA AAA INJ Rk/A+
2007 (30) Andrew Brackman NC State - INJ A A+/AA AAA

The most interesting thing about the above list is that very few 1st Round college pitchers from the last five years have established themselves as Major League starting pitchers. Of that group, only David Price of the Rays is a legitimate starter right now. Mike Minor and Mike Leake are on the cusp of making it, while Sale and Drew Storen are established relievers now. Stephen Strasburg, of course, had also succeeded as a Major League starter, but is now trying to come back from Tommy John surgery.

Another point to notice is that the most recent draft class, with Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, Bauer, Jed Bradley, Sonny Gray, and Matt Barnes, is probably the best group of college arms in many years. Finally, it seems that back in 2007 and 2008, most of these drafted pitchers spent some time in the Minor Leagues in their draft season. But the trend over the last few years is that players actually start their pro careers in the following year.

As for Bauer, it looks like he may join Chris Sale as one of the few to jump all the way to the Majors in his first pro year. It is very possible that he will throw around 10 IP for AA Mobile, and then finish the year with 10-20 IP for the Diamondbacks. With his high 90s fastball and assortment of secondary pitches, he could be a valuable piece in the D'Backs' pen down the stretch.