It's no surprise that we are hearing this issue raised about the Diamondbacks' star prospect, Trevor Bauer. The 20-year-old has already thrown 137 innings at UCLA and another (fantastic) 14 innings in minor league starts in the Arizona organization.
Doesn't it make sense for the D-backs to take their time and not rush this future star to the majors? Obviously. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus writing at ESPN Insider ($) makes a compelling case for shutting him down:
MLB - Trevor Bauer of the Arizona Diamondbacks could put them over the top - ESPN
Bauer's pitch counts are even more troubling. As big league teams rarely push prospects past 100 in minor league games, Bauer's college pitching lines look like something from the 1970s. Only four times in 2011 has a pitcher hit the 130 pitch mark in the majors, with Tim Lincecum's 133-pitch effort on May 21 being the high. Bauer matched or exceeded the 133 mark in half of his 16 starts, including a stretch of six in a row, with a high of 140 in a 10-1 win over Cal-State Bakersfield...
Bauer has talked about this several times already, pointing out that his unique training routine and the six days of rest between starts at UCLA mitigate those numbers. Like any confident young athlete, he considers himself indestructible -- and he may be right.
But he might not be right and that's the rub.
If the D-backs call-up Bauer in September when rosters expand and throw him approximately 10 innings out of the 'pen during a pennant race and he gets hurt, all hell will break loose on the organization.
It has to be a tough call for Kevin Towers and Bauer's chief recruiter, Jerry Dipoto. Both have said they are taking the long view with Bauer and won't rush him past his abilities.
At the same time, the kid makes a compelling case, both with his outings in the minors and with his explanation of why his mechanics and preparation make him less injury-prone than a power arm like Stephen Strasburg who blew out his arm in his first year in the majors.
There's no way I'm going to sit here and pretend like I know what the right answer is. Like most fans, I'm dying to see Bauer on the mound at Chase Field, but obviously I wouldn't want to encourage anything that might cause him harm.
We'll just have to trust that the Diamondbacks front office will make the right decision and given what they've shown us, I have absolutely no problem doing that.
[Note by Seth Pollack, 08/18/11 12:50 PM MST ]
Here's another national voice calling for Bauer to get an immediate look at a the 5th starter:
Wishful Thinking: Arizona Should Call Up Trevor Bauer | FanGraphs Baseball
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Bauer is the fourth-most-talented starting pitcher in Arizona’s organization. If I’m running a team in a playoff race, I’d want the most talented team on the field. For Arizona, that means Bauer should be in the starting rotation.