GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians were willing to exercise extreme patience with pitching prospect Trevor Bauer last season due to his potential as a rotation cornerstone.
Bauer labored throughout the summer while implementing a series of mechanical adjustments, and Cleveland has had a chance to see the changes in action this spring. From what he has witnessed, Indians manager Terry Francona feels the organization took the proper approach with Bauer last year.
"You try to look at the big picture," Francona said on Sunday "I think with everything, you try to make decisions not based out of emotion, but based on what's best for our team. I think with a 23-year-old pitcher that the ceiling is very high, you have to step back sometimes and let him figure it out, certainly, with help.
"I think we're going to see dividends this year at some point. It may not be April 1, but at some point this year I think we'll see dividends, and once he gets here and figures it out, he's got a chance to be a dominating pitcher. That's the idea anyway."
Bauer was a key part of the three-team, nine-player trade that the Indians swung with the D-backs and Reds on Dec. 11, 2012. Cleveland knew at the time that the right-hander was undergoing changes to his delivery, but general manager Chris Antonetti has said in the past that the club may have "underestimated the magnitude" of the adjustments.
In his first season in Cleveland's system, Bauer went 6-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 22 starts, which included 106 strikeouts and 73 walks in 121 1/3 innings. In four spot starts with the Tribe, Bauer went 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 17 innings and had more walks (16) than strikeouts (11).
So far this spring, Bauer has compiled seven strikeouts and three walks in five Cactus League innings, but his delivery has looked less violent than last year. In a recent outing, Bauer was also clocked at 98 mph on one of his pitches. While the right-hander is hardly a finished product, Francona said the early results have been encouraging.
"I think he's pretty comfortable in his delivery," Francona said. "You see him going out there now attacking more -- not feeling for his delivery. I think he hit 97-98 [mph]. That's not the end all, and that's not the goal, but it does show that he's got life in his arm. To be able to hit that velocity, you've got to feel good.
"It might be a baby step, but it's a step. Sometimes, that's good enough. And then, one thing leads to another and another and, if you keep doing that, at some point we'll see him here and it'll come together."