Nationals draft preview: UCLA RHP Trevor Bauer

The Nationals could very well have their shot at not one, but two front-line UCLA right-handed starters Monday in the draft. The hard-throwing Gerrit Cole that we previewed Thursday, and right-hander Trevor Bauer. What is the difference between the two?

Cole may throw a little harder, but Bauer makes more hitters miss, according to Jim Callis, executive editor for Baseball America. He sees good things from both choices, but thinks Bauer might be the better long-term choice.

“(Bauer’s stuff) is not Cole stuff, but it is pretty good,” Callis said. “He has got more command and he really competes. Bauer is unorthodox. His motion reminds people of (Tim) Lincecum. He does an extreme long toss to build up arm strength. He has added velocity every year. These two guys are facing the same opponents every week so it is a good comparison.

“Bauer’s ERA is two runs lower a game than Cole’s (ERA),” Callis reasoned. “Even though he has better stuff, the best stuff in the draft, Cole is averaging one strikeout per inning. Bauer is averaging a strikeout and a half per inning facing the same teams. Bauer is going to be the first guy in 30 years to lead the NCAA in strikeouts in back-to-back years.”

Baseball America’s scouting report says Bauer has a unique mix of pitches and styles:

“On his worst days, (Bauer) still holds 91-93 mph fastball velocity deep into games, and he often tops out at 95-96. He has exceptional feel for a sharp, downer curveball that rates as plus to plus-plus. His changeup is above-average, and he mixes in an occasional split-finger and flashes a slider. He also throws what he calls a “reverse slider,” which runs in on left-handed hitters at 85-87 mph - and some scouts say that is plus, too. Bauer relishes striking hitters out, so he throws a lot of pitches.”

Callis says this is the fun part of prognosticating on what might happen in the draft because Cole may be the flashy thoroughbred pick, but Bauer could be the work horse in the long run.

“It is interesting. If you are not turned off by long toss and the unorthodox delivery in Bauer, and team’s were turned off by Tim Lincecum and look what happened there, 19 teams passed on him.”

Callis feels if Bauer is still available, the Nationals should seriously consider him.

“My gut feeling is that Trevor Bauer is going to be a better big league pitcher than Cole, but not by a bunch,” Callis said. “So if you made me pick one of those two guys, I would probably pick Bauer. I do think Bauer will be the first starting pitcher from this draft in the big leagues. In terms of getting there and staying there, I think that guy is Bauer.

“I don’t think the Nationals really think they are going to have a shot at Cole. I think the two guys they probably will be looking at are Trevor Bauer and Bubba Starling.”

Have you wanted the Nationals to draft a leadoff center fielder with speed? We will preview Bubba Starling this weekend.

Who do you think the Nationals should choose with their first selection? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section. It will be interesting to see what you think. Should they go for a college pitcher or a high school or junior college star?

My complete radio interview with Callis can be heard at 2:30 p.m. Sunday during “Nats Insider” on Sports Radio 106.7 The Fan.

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