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Diamondbacks rookie is Trevor Bauer -- or 'Tim Lincecum Jr.'

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
PEORIA, Ariz. -- After one day watching the Trevor Bauer Show, I can't tell you if he's going to be in the Diamondbacks rotation to open the season. I can't tell you if he's going to be a great big-league pitcher.

I can say this: If he's as good as he could be, he's going to be a huge star.

A can't-take-your-eyes-off-him star.

He already has the first half. You go to see Trevor Bauer pitch, you can't take your eyes off him.

"Tim Lincecum Jr.," one scout leaving the Peoria Baseball Complex said Friday, after Bauer's second spring start.

Think Lincecum, or think Mark Fidrych, or think Fernando Valenzuela.

I'm not saying he's going to pitch like those guys (although he could). I'm saying that if he does pitch like them, you'll be making plans to see him, the way you made plans to see them.

You'll get there early, to see the yoga routine he goes through before warming up. You'll tell everyone about the long-toss routine, the one where he eventually throws the ball from foul pole to foul pole (really).

And the first warm-up throw at the start of every inning, the one where he takes a crow-hop and fires the ball as hard as he can.

"I don't think I'll ever get used to it," Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero said.

The word on Bauer is already starting to get around the Cactus League. The Mariners, Friday's opponent, talked about Bauer in the clubhouse Friday morning.

"I'm excited to see him pitch," said Danny Hultzen, who was the second overall draft pick last June, one spot ahead of Bauer. "Some of the other guys saw him last year in Double-A. Unreal, foul pole to foul pole. I'd need two throws to get it there."

Hultzen has star potential himself. Like Bauer, he has some chance to make the Mariners' opening day rotation. In an organization suddenly rich in top pitching prospects, club officials consider Hultzen to be more advanced than Tajuan Walker or James Paxton (although they think all three have top-of-the-rotation potential).

But the 22-year-old Hultzen is more like your normal first-round draft pick.

Bauer, who turned 21 in January, is the one out of the ordinary.

"We understand he's unique," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said.

You can tell that Gibson is already getting to love Bauer, and not just because of the obvious talent. In fact, the moment Gibson loved most in Friday's start was the one after Bauer took a Brendan Ryan line drive off his left calf, and waved off the trainer and stayed in the game.

"He told me, 'You come and get me if I'm lying down and bleeding heavily,'" said Gibson, who once told Tommy Lasorda basically the same thing.

It's not just toughness, though.

"He wants to learn as much as anyone I've ever been around," Gibson said.

The most Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers will say is that they're not ruling out anything as far as whether Bauer could make the opening day rotation.

Bauer himself insists, "I'm not in any rush."

Friday, in another quote that will thrill Gibson, Bauer said, "The organization will decide what's best for them to win a World Series. If I fit into it, great."

If he fits in, you'll be making plans to see him.

His teammates already do. When Bauer threw a marathon Wednesday morning bullpen session -- Gibson estimated he threw 90 pitches -- Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz were there to watch.

"I wouldn't say I'm fascinated," Putz said. "Just very impressed. People can say he's quirky, so unorthodox, but if he believes in it, it's going to work for him.

"He keeps going out there with stuff like this, I don't think anyone here will have a problem with him."

The Diamondbacks aren't asking him to change, which is one reason Bauer was so happy that they were the organization that drafted him. He doesn't plan to change a routine he began developing when he was 14 years old and went to the Texas Baseball Ranch.

And when he starts the foul pole to foul pole thing and opponents stop to watch, well, he's used to that.

"I was used to it six years ago, when I would throw long toss in the park," he said. "People walking their dogs would stop and look."

He was 15 years old then.

Now Bauer is 21, and still, people stop and look. If he's as good as he could be, you'll be looking, too.

 
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