Last July, while many teenagers were hanging out at the beach on their summer vacations, Trevor Bauer of Newhall Hart was spending three weeks in 95-degree temperatures and 85% humidity at a baseball camp in Texas.
"It was not fun and games," he said. "It was tough . . . but very beneficial."
With a 4.2 grade-point average and a fastball touching 92 mph, Bauer has become the No. 1 junior pitching prospect in the Southland. Last week, he struck out 16 against West Torrance while coaches from UCLA, Stanford and Pepperdine watched attentively from the stands.
"He was overwhelming," Hart Coach Jim Ozella said. "Guys didn't have a chance."
Bauer, a 6-foot-1 right-hander, served notice of his potential last season, when he was promoted from junior varsity late in the year and was the winning pitcher in the Indians' Southern Section Division I playoff victory over Newbury Park.
"We couldn't rattle him," Newbury Park Coach Scott Drootin said. "He was a 10th grader in a playoff situation, and he was cool, calm and collected. I don't want to see him again."
Bauer's strength is a mental toughness rarely seen in 17-year-olds. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that when he was 6, his youth coach decided to put him on the mound for the first time in a bases-loaded situation.
"I've always enjoyed pitching in big games and big situations," he said.
He will show emotion, raising his fist after an important strikeout, but he doesn't lose his concentration when the going gets tough.
"I love to compete," he said. "It's a fine line. You can't get too emotionally involved, but you have to have some emotion."
Bauer has pitched exceptionally well in the opening month of the season. On Wednesday, he struck out nine and did not give up a hit in a five-inning start against Santa Clarita Golden Valley, making him 4-0 on the season with 38 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings and an earned-run average of 0.32.
And he needs to be at his best, considering that Hart's co-No. 1 pitcher is senior left-hander Mike Montgomery, a Cal State Fullerton signee who throws even harder.
Montgomery took a no-hitter into the seventh inning two weeks ago against Thousand Oaks and took a perfect game into the sixth inning last week against Valencia West Ranch. He will start today in a Foothill League showdown at Saugus.
Ball movement and increasing velocity, combined with Bauer's ability to throw strikes, reminds me of another Hart pitcher, Jamie Shields, who will be the starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on opening day. Shields went 11-0 in 1999 when the Indians won the Division II title.
Much of Bauer's success can be attributed to preparation and work ethic. He attended the baseball camp in Houston to improve his strength and learn new training techniques.
"He's the kind of kid who works at his craft," Ozella said. "Most high school kids want to be good but don't know what steps to do. He studies the game, then goes out and does it."
His parents took turns staying with him in Texas, forfeiting their own family vacation time, but Bauer promises not to forget their sacrifice. His mother, Kathy, said the payback has already come in watching him do something he loves.
"To see him be as dedicated and as passionate as he is . . . it's amazing," she said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times