The 2020 NL Cy Young Winner had a short stint in Arizona’s minor league system.
D-backs Farm Flashback is a new series coming to Az Snake Pit during the offseason, where I examine how former and current Diamondbacks players performed in the minor leagues. From decorated Hall of Famers and All-Stars, to spot starters and bench contributors, hundreds of professional baseball players worked their way to the major leagues. But how did their journey through the minor league ranks go? Let’s find out! Feel free to list any notable players or suggestions in the comments below.
After his dominant 2020 National League Cy Young campaign, it’s only fitting for the next D-backs Farm Flashback to highlight right-hander Trevor Bauer.
Bauer won the only Cy Young award in Cincinnati Reds history last season, posting a 5-4 record and NL-best 1.73 ERA in 11 starts. He surrendered just four earned runs with 39 strikeouts over his final four starts to help the Reds clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2013.
Bauer’s dominance on the mound has primarily been with the Cleveland Indians and Reds. But he was the No. 3 overall pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of UCLA in 2011. His brief stint with the organization lasted less than two full seasons due to several reported antics with teammates and management.
Despite his short stay in Arizona, Bauer performed well in the minors on his way to his eventual MLB debut. Bauer won’t be remembered for his time with the Diamondbacks, but his ascension in their minor league system is worth another look.
2011: Visalia Rawhide (Advanced Class-A)
Season Statistics: 3 starts, 9.0 innings pitched, 0-1 record, 3.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 17 strikeouts, 4 walks
In his first taste of pro ball, Bauer was thrusted to High-A Visalia coming out of the draft. He was joined by fellow future Diamondbacks Adam Eaton, Chris Owings and Tyler Skaggs.
Bauer had a small sample size with Visalia, and his overall numbers didn’t give much insight to how well he performed. He totaled 17 strikeouts to just four walks through three starts. Bauer’s season wasn’t done, as he reached a new level towards the tail-end of the year.
2011: Mobile BayBears (Double-A)
Season Statistics: 4 starts, 16.2 innings pitched, 1-1 record, 7.56 ERA, 1.68 WHIP, 26 strikeouts, 8 walks
After his outing in Visalia, Bauer was promoted to Double-A Mobile that same season. His ERA blossomed as he surrendered 14 earned runs over 16.2 innings, but his WHIP and high strikeout rate were positives
Bauer’s first professional season experienced some up-and-downs in limited work, but he was set to ascend up the MiLB ladder heading into 2012.
2012: Mobile BayBears (Double-A)
Season Statistics: 8 starts, 48.1 innings pitched, 7-1 record, 1.68 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 60 strikeouts, 26 walks
Bauer began the 2012 season back in Double-A, but he truly shined on the mound when given a full opportunity.
The right-hander posted a 1.68 ERA through eight starts, just one tick behind lefty Patrick Corbin’s 1.67 ERA for the year. Bauer led all Mobile starters with a 11.17 K/9 and began to showcase his lofty draft status. He earned Minor League Baseball’s Pitcher of the Week on April 23 after tossing seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts against the Jacksonville Suns.
At one point, Mobile had a frontline starter rotation of Bauer, Crobin and Chase Anderson. The BayBears went on to win the Southern League Championship over the Jackson Generals, but Bauer was on the brink of the big leagues after another promotion.
2012: Reno Aces (Triple-A)
Season Statistics: 14 starts, 82.0 innings pitched, 5-1 record, 2.85 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 97 strikeouts, 35 walks
Bauer continued his impressive season in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He was fifth on the Aces in ERA and third in strikeouts. He represented the Diamondbacks organization in the 2012 MLB Futures Game.
The awards and recognition piled on for Bauer after his Triple-A stint. He was named to Baseball America’s Minor League All-Star team and also was named a D-backs’ Organizational All-Star on milb.com.
While Bauer climbed up Arizona’s system, his character and actions peeled back the curtain behind his short-lived tenure with the team. During the Triple-A championship game against Pawtucket, Bauer was reportedly upset and stormed off the mound after being pulled one out short of qualifying for the win.
Bauer’s actions and friction with teammates and management continued throughout his successful 2012 season, and his time with the organization was nearing its end.
At 21 years old, Bauer made his MLB debut with the Diamondbacks on June 28 against the Atlanta Braves. He gave up five hits with three strikeouts over four innings in a no-decision effort.
Bauer’s awaited MLB debut didn’t capture as much attention to his pregame long-toss routine, where he was reportedly drenched in sweat an hour before the game. He threw 42 of 74 pitches for strikes.
The controversy behind Bauer’s actions continued with teammates including catcher Miguel Montero, and it created friction within the locker room. Bauer finished his first big league season with a 1-2 record and 6.06 ERA over four starts and 16.1 innings.
Bauer’s time with the Diamondbacks came to an end on Dec. 11, 2012 when he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in a six-player deal headlined by shortstop Didi Gregorious. Bauer was later traded to the Reds in a three-team trade in 2019.
Coming off his first Cy Young award, Bauer ultimately blossomed into an elite starter with Cleveland and Cincinnati. Now he seeks a well-deserved free agent deal this offseason. After spending such high draft capital on Bauer, his future with the organization remains a big “What if?” scenario.
Regardless of his antics and comments with the D-backs, he showcased his potential stardom in the minor leagues. He quickly rose through the ranks and made his MLB debut in less than two full seasons.