Previously Anticipated Difference Makers Missing in September Call-Ups

September call-ups are a time for young players to prove their worth at a major league level following the end of their minor league seasons. Guys who have been promising prospects all year are given a chance to truly integrate themselves into the system for which they have been playing.

With the Indians slew of September call-ups focusing on much-needed pitching help, one name is decidedly absent from the list of additions: Trevor Bauer.

During the off-season and heading into the 2013 season, Bauer’s name was one that was tossed around as a difference maker in the Indians organization. He was touted as one of the most promising pitching prospects, only in need of some fine tuning and adjustment to the big league lifestyle.

His warm-up routines and pitching mentality were constant points of discussion among Tribe fans. Who was this kid Cleveland had just acquired from the Diamondbacks, and how long was it going to take for him to become a solid contributor to the rotation?

Bauer had a rough season in Arizona in 2012, with a lackluster Major League debut during the 2012 season. He was sent back to the Diamondback minor leagues, with no September call up from them, either, when the roster expanded in 2012.

However, when Cleveland acquired the young right-handed pitcher, expectations were high. He had enormous potential in the minors in 2012, and his major league upsets seemed to be a product of an awkward team dynamic simply combined with Bauer’s youth. He’s currently 22 years old this season.

In the preseason rankings, Bauer was slotted as the number two prospect in the Indians organization, only behind shortstop phenom Francisco Lindor.

Drafted in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Bauer was anticipated to already be a major difference maker at this point in the season. Predictions had Bauer working on command and consistency throughout the first half of the season in Triple-A Columbus before moving into the bigs in the second half. He was even tossed around as a possible fifth starter in the very beginning of the season when the rotation was still up in the air.

His few big league appearances this season, however, did not paint Bauer in the most positive light. He first appeared with the Tribe early in the season, on April 6, when he pitched five innings, giving up three earned runs on two hits and striking out two batters while walking seven. He appeared twice in May, allowing two earned runs between the two outings and giving up a total of seven hits, striking out nine total and walking eight in a combined 11.1 innings. Bauer’s last appearance with the Tribe was in late June, when he went just two-thirds of an inning, allowing five earned runs on six hits, issuing one walk and no strikeouts. Bauer’s major league record is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA.

In Columbus, Bauer is 6-7 with a 4.15 ERA. He has struck out a total of 106 batters while issuing 73 walks. When he’s on point, Bauer can throw in the mid-90s, numbers that gave him the hype that has been surrounding him. However, the young pitcher struggles with consistency, which is evident in looking at his Columbus season in review. By skipping over Bauer in the round of September call-ups, the organization continues to demonstrate just how they feel about Bauer. Their brushing over of the pitcher for someone like Carlos Carrasco speaks volumes for what the Indians see (or don’t see, as the case may be) in Bauer late in the season.

Another surprising pass up, in my opinion, is T.J. House. House was added to the 40-man roster, but never made his Major League debut on the mound. He has spent his season in Columbus, where he posts a 4.32 ERA and a 7-10 record, the most wins on the team. He has struck out 110 batters as compared to walking 54, and has pitched two complete games.

House, who is almost 24, has been with the Indians organization since 2009. He has grown and developed within its rank, allowing him to be known more fully than newcomers such as Bauer. He has proven himself a strong pitcher, one who I feel is worthy of a shot in the Majors. There hasn’t been as much hype surrounding House as other players, but he was one I anticipated to be used more fully at a higher level toward the end of the season.

Furthermore, House is a left-handed pitcher – something the organization is in desperate need of at a higher level. Although lefty Nick Hagadone pitched to a 2.51 ERA in Columbus this season, his numbers with the Tribe have been less than impressive – he is 0-1 with a 5.53 ERA in 30 games. House could have been given a shot over Hagadone. His Major League struggles have been a much-discussed woe this season, and his two appearances in September are not changing that track record quickly.

Other pitchers who have been called up by the Indians in favor of guys like Bauer and House are Preston Guilmet and Josh Tomlin. Tomlin has impressed in his rehab starts, and can provide valuable relief for guys who may find themselves tiring at this point in the season, such as Scott Kazmir or Corey Kluber – or even Justin Masterson after his removal from Monday’s game. Guilmet replaced Masterson at that point, and though he struggled in his brief outing, he has proven consistent throughout the rest of the year and should become a regular face in the bullpen next season.

The Indians did make some surprising moves in their promotions, notably newcomer Jose Ramirez, who, as everyone knows by now, is the fourth-youngest player in the major leagues. He batted .272 at Double-A Akron this season after ending last season with the Lake County Captains, where he hit .354. His strong minor league numbers do show promise, but the jump from Akron to Cleveland at the end of the season can be a hit-or-miss decision by the organization. If Ramirez can perform, it will be a joyful occasion for Cleveland fans everywhere. Triple-A candidates Juan Diaz and Tim Fedroff were designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for some of the newcomers.

Overall, the decisions made by the organization in the September call-ups demonstrate exactly where the Indians see the future of their ball club. With a strong focus on pitchers, those with previously high expectations are looked over in favor of others who have proven more consistent or simply are more ready for the grind of the Major League game. Position players who have not proven steady worth find themselves in the same boat, remaining in the minors while guys younger than them are given a shot to see if they are the future the Tribe is looking for.

It goes to show that numbers and predictions can only go so far. Someone who seems to have it all together on paper or during spring training may not be able to perform under the circumstances required of them – and the organization demonstrates that understanding as the roster expands, and they pick and choose the guys they know can bring them are far as possible into the post season.

Photo: Getty Images

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