'Fixing' Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer walked 8.5 men per nine innings for Cleveland in 2014. AP Photo/Brian Blanco

There are players about whom industry consensus quickly forms, whose abilities inspire clear scouting comparables that point to a decisive projection moving forward. Trevor Bauer is not among them.

Just two and a half years removed from being taken as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bauer is now viewed almost as a bust. After ranking as high as 21st in Keith Law's top prospect rankings in 2012, he fell completely outside of the top 100 this year, a tumble likely accelerated by his defiance of convention.

Bauer's success as an amateur -- he led Division I in strikeouts as a sophomore and junior at UCLA, with a 1.25 ERA as a 20-year-old in the latter campaign -- featured anything but the prototypical pitcher's build (6-foot-1 and 190 pounds), delivery (the tilt of his head and hips offered echoes of Tim Lincecum) and routine (long-tossing from 350 feet before starts while incorporating numerous atypical exercises). Still, his arsenal of a mid-90s fastball and a diverse array of secondary pitches was enough to dominate in college, but not enough to suppress questions about the sustainability of his performance.

"Every year there are a half dozen players in the draft who are freakish. They break stereotypes -- stuff so good from bodies so small, they produce great power without a big frame, they're 80 runners or have ridiculous hand-eye coordination. They're guys who break the mold and there aren't really good comps for them," explained one NL executive. "Those players usually cement themselves as either stud prospects with bright futures early or it goes the other direction and they lose value more quickly than traditional prospects.

"[Bauer]," continued the executive, "certainly has tremendously decreased value [since the draft]."

Most of the industry would agree.