Top pick Bauer visits Chase Field

Photo by Jordan Megenhardt

By Greg Dillard

In last week’s 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the D-backs made a splash with the selection of highly touted UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer.

The third overall pick got his first taste of life as a D-back on Tuesday, when he received the full Chase Field experience and attended the series-opening game against the rival Giants. Bauer was escorted on a tour of the ballpark and met D-backs skipper Kirk Gibson and the coaching staff, as well as several of the team’s current players.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the big leagues… never something that was an expectation or a reality until just recently,” Bauer said. “So getting to meet those guys and have a conversation is pretty spectacular.”

Bauer wasn’t alone during his D-backs journey. His father, Warren, was also in attendance throughout Tuesday’s events, while the entire Bauer clan made the trip to Phoenix this week.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Bauer said. “My family and I are really close. My mom and my sister are actually in town with me. They chose to go shopping right now, but they’ll be here for the game. They’ve been a huge part in my process, my development, and raising me obviously. It’s really good to share it with them.”

The 6-foot-2 Bauer is fresh off a dominating season as a member of the UCLA baseball team. In 16 starts, he posted a 13-2 record with a miniscule 1.25 ERA. Bauer’s 203 strikeouts led the entire NCAA. Of his 16 starts, 10 of them were complete games.

The right-hander’s success did not go unnoticed as he received plenty of national recognition. He claimed National Player of the Year honors from Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball. Bauer was also awarded as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, and was a top-three semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.

This week’s visit to the Valley of Sun wasn’t Bauer’s first trip to Arizona. Just three weeks ago, Bauer and his Bruins came to Tempe for a three-game series against Arizona State. Bauer dominated in his May 28th start, unleashing a complete-game shutout over the Sun Devils.

“That was a fun night,” Bauer said. “I beat ASU my freshman year, and they got me in a bad way last year. So I was happy to go out there and pitch well.”

Of course, all those accolades and performances came as a collegiate player. Bauer now faces the tall task of translating his talent to the professional level.

“When I’d miss spots in college at 93, 94 mph, guys still had trouble squaring it up,” Bauer said. “Even if they did get a good pass on it, maybe it was a fly out to the track. But you miss spots in professional baseball, it’s a double off the wall. It’s a home run. (I’m) probably just going to have to be finer with my control.”

Bauer’s professional debut has yet to be determined. He has not signed with the D-backs, and is unsure of when those negotiations will be hammered out. All that matters to him is that it’s sometime in the near future.

“I want to get back out there on the field,” Bauer said. “I’m starting to miss it already.”

Whenever Bauer does sign, he will embark on what he hopes to be a rapid ascension through the minor league ranks. Despite being just 20 years old, Bauer hopes to be on the Chase Field mound in the near future.

“I hope to be up by next year at some point,” Bauer said. “I’m fully confident in my abilities, and that I can compete and give my team a chance to win at the big league level. That being said, it’s not entirely my decision. It depends on how I do obviously in the minor leagues and as the season gets going and (things) like that.”

Whether or not Bauer reaches the Major Leagues next season remains to be seen. However, the talented right-hander holds high expectations for his future.

“I’m a winner,” Bauer said. “That’s my goal, to go out there and win.”

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