The Diamondbacks had two of the first seven picks in last June’s amateur draft, and to say that scouting director Ray Montgomery is excited about those players is an understatement. You can’t blame him. Right-hander Trevor Bauer, who was taken third overall out of UCLA, is already close to big-league ready with the potential to become a perennial all-star. Archie Bradley, a 19-year-old right-hander, came out of Broken Arrow, Okla., with a high-90s fastball and an equally good chance to become a dominant front-line starter.
Montgomery gave scouting reports on both pitchers. He broke down their deliveries, their repertoires and their mindsets.
Montgomery on Trevor Bauer: “I think you can start with the fact that prior to us re-signing Joe Saunders, Trevor was going into major-league camp with designs on that fifth-starter spot. That says a lot about his talent.
“He’s a four-pitch guy. He’ll tell you that it’s six pitches, but I think that four is what he’ll end up throwing once he moves into the upper echelon. They’re all average to above. He works off his fastball, which is plus-plus at times.
“He throws a plus fastball, a plus-plus curveball, a tick-above-average slider — which is almost a cutter — and a split-changeup. The fifth is kind of a screwball, which he calls a ‘reverse.’ Basically, it’s a changeup with screwball action and he’ll throw it to both right- and left-handed hitters. He throws variations of his pitches, which sort of accounts for what he means when he tells you it’s six.
“Velocity-wise, his ability to go up and down the scale, anywhere from 90 to 98, is what benefits him. That goes for all pitchers. He throws both a two-seamer and a four-seamer. He has the ability to sink a two-seam fastball in the 90 to 93 range, and he also has the ability to throw a four-seam fastball in the 95 to 96 range. That’s all predicated by how he’s attacking hitters.
“I think the one thing that sums Trevor up best is that he just turned 21 and he understands the idea of changing speeds, changing tempo and disrupting hitters’ timing. He’s a very advanced thinker on the mound. Although he gets lots of [Tim] Lincecum comparisons because of his delivery, I think his stuff works more in an [Roy] Oswalt-type comparison.
“Mechanically, his delivery is an up-tempo, high-paced, high-energy delivery, somewhat in the Lincecum mold. Trevor is 6-foot-1 and he gets every bit of his 185 pounds into his delivery. Whereas some may call it a max-effort delivery, I call it a maximum-optimum delivery. He’s using all of his body parts equally. He’s using the stronger muscles to protect his arm — his legs and his trunk. From a true mechanical standpoint, he’s very good when you slow it down. There aren’t a lot of red flags in what he does.
“The way he trains is unique, and very extensive. Most of his movements are for explosion. They’re all done in five- to 15-second increments, because that’s how his body operates in the game. He’s not training for a marathon, he’s training for the short, explosive movements that’s he going to have to repeat 100 to 150 times a game.
“Trevor’s arm slot is high-three-quarters, almost overhand at times. He’s got a little bit of what I would call a ‘head clear’ that gets him into that slot, a la Lincecum.
“One thing Trevor has is really good deception. That goes back to what I was saying about the disrupting of timing of the hitters. It’s very hard to pick up the ball against him. Everything that comes out of his hand looks identical, and that’s a very uncomfortable feeling as a hitter. If you can’t discern between the pitches in the first 13-hundredths of a second, you’re in trouble. That’s what makes guys like that really, really difficult. Up until his one hiccup in Double-A, which he backed up by throwing five strong innings in the [Southern League] championship game, he was striking out 40% of everyone he faced. To me, that’s indicative of hitters just not seeing the ball.
“Trevor is remarkably well-versed in the study of pitching — the art of pitching — and the mechanics as they relate to him individually. He understands the mechanics of what the body needs to do create optimal energy and force, and how to throw a baseball with the optimal energy and force. He’s extremely intelligent. The other side of the coin is that he does need to learn how to apply it to major-league hitters, and that’s going to be the toughest part.
“If you talk to Trevor, you’ll understand that he pitches to quadrants of the zone. He also pitches to try to disrupt hitters’ eye levels, so he wants his pitches to come out on planes as well as to zones. He wants to repeat pitches in their release point, plane and direction. Trevor is viewed as an out-of-the-box thinker, but he’s a tactician.”
On Archie Bradley: “Archie is different from Trevor in the physical sense — he’s a lot bigger [6-foot-4, 225 pounds] — but he’s very similar in how he goes about his business. He’s extremely focused and extremely passionate about pitching. He’s a very good athlete. As you know, he was also a football player.
“Archie is more of a two-pitch power package. Both are well above average. His fastball touched 100 last year and I would grade his curveball, when it’s on, as good as anybody’s.
“He was a two-pitch guy in his high-school career, but he worked on a circle changeup extensively in instructional league. I think it’s going to be a good pitch for him. Our player development guys — Mel Stottlemyre,Jr. and Jeff Pico — did a nice job citing the emphasis to him. They said, ‘We know you have the fastball and breaking ball, but let’s make a concentrated effort to add a third pitch because it will expand your repertoire and make you more valuable.’ We’ll see down the road if it’s average or plus, but for all intents and purposes, at this age, he’s a two-pitch power pitcher.
“You hear people say that you need three pitches to start in the big leagues, but I would argue that. It’s nice to have three, but Ben Sheets made a nice living with two power pitches. You could go down the list and name others, as well. Ideally, like Trevor, the more the merrier, to disrupt hitters’ timing, but you don’t necessarily need that.
“Mechanically, Archie is very solid. He throws from a high-three-quarters slot with a fairly clean, easy, repeatable delivery for his age. Despite having [been drafted] out of high school, Archie has been a pretty well known commodity for years. We’ve been scouting him since he was a freshman in high school. We watched his delivery continue to improve every year and we saw some more of that at the end of the regular season last year, as well as in instructional league. He grades well within the [biomechanical] parameters.
“I think the perception of Archie is that he’s a two-sport athlete who is gifted with the ability to throw a baseball, and that’s all he does. But one thing that has been very impressive with Archie, as we’ve gotten to know him through this process, is that he’s quite the baseball historian. He has a pretty good sense of what’s going on in the game. He’s not Trevor in that respect — Trevor is unique — but he’s a pretty astute kid.
“Historically, your better high school arms tend to track through systems pretty quickly. But to put a timetable on Archie, beyond him hopefully starting the year with a full-season club, right now I think the idea is to let him dictate to us how fast he moves. We challenge our prospects. We’re not afraid to move them and if they show the ability to handle a level, they’ll continue to progress. Archie has a lot of talent, so he has chance to do that.”
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