On Thursday, while most of us were enjoying the third of MLB's four opening days, a bunch of minor leaguers were producing their first official stats of the 2012 season. The kid pictured above, 21-year-old Trevor Bauer, was among the most impressive.
Bauer threw five scoreless innings for Double-A Mobile, retiring the first 11 batters he faced, holding Mississippi hitless until the fifth frame. He struck out seven batters, walked three, and allowed just two hits.
Bauer is coming off an excellent spring for the Diamondbacks (3.60 ERA, 10.0 IP, 11 H, 9 Ks), and it wouldn't be much of a surprise if he forced his way into Arizona's plans this year, perhaps before the break. Keep him on the watch list. Bauer has a nine-pitch repertoire, which probably makes him as much of a nightmare for catchers as hitters. He was the third overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, selected just after Seattle LHP Danny Hultzen and just ahead of Baltimore RHP Dylan Bundy. He's also a famously deep thinker about his craft. Details here, via SI. (<-- click that link. Definitely worth a few minutes).
Over 30.2 career minor league innings, Bauer has now racked up 50 Ks while issuing 15 walks, so let's not doubt the quality of his stuff. When he gets the call, it will be an actionable fantasy event.
After the jump, we check the early returns from a few other high-value prospects. Please stick around, gamers.
• Colorado third base prospect Nolan Arenado went 4-for-5 for Double-A Tulsa, driving in three runs. He was a monster in the Arizona Fall League (MVP, 1.059 OPS, 6 HR), and he led the minors in RBIs last year (122). When he arrives in the majors — and it should happen this season, because his path is clear — he'll do his hitting in the friendliest possible home park.
• Bryce Harper, who you may have heard of, went 2-for-4 with a double and a steal for Triple-A Syracuse. Harper's speed is really an under-reported trait, but it's going to be a key to his fantasy value early in his career, while he adjusts to competition at the highest levels of pro ball. He swiped 26 bags in 33 attempts last season.
• Angels prospect Mike Trout had a 3-for-5 day at Triple-A Salt Lake, scoring a pair of runs. He was also caught stealing, but we appreciate the attempt. That's a core category for Trout, as he stole 33 bags in the minors last season and 56 the year before.
• Speaking of steals, shortstop Billy Hamilton had one for Single-A Bakersfield on Thursday. It would be much bigger news if Hamilton didn't steal a base, since he swiped 103 last season in just 135 games. He also homered in Bakersfield's opener, but that won't happen so often. He only cleared the fence three times in 2011.
• O's prospect Manny Machado homered on the first pitch he saw at Double-A Bowie, and later added a steal. Machado ranks high on everyone's prospect list, but, like Harper, he's still just 19. Let's try to be patient here.
• Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo each went 2-for-4 with a steal for Triple-A Iowa. We'll almost certainly see both players at Wrigley this season, hopefully pre-break. The Cubs can pretend they're in the playoff hunt for only so long.
• Will Middlebrooks had a 3-for-4 day for Triple-A Pawtucket, with a pair of doubles. Baseball America ranked the 23-year-old third baseman as Boston's top prospect entering the year, then Middlebrooks delivered a 6-for-20 spring performance. His arrival depends a bit on the timing of this year's Kevin Youkilis injury. Stay ready, kid.