Bauers, who had a good spring, is obviously qualified to go up with his teammates from last year but when you are running the organizational chart, it's not as easy a decision as it appears to be.
Last year the best infielder in Fort Wayne was third baseman Gabriel Quintana, who hit .305/./.334/.447. The problem was the Storm third baseman Duanel Jones, who signed with the Padres in 2010 for $900,000, did not hitting .225/.281/.327. Jones, at six-foot-three 225 lbs., is a tools monster and is still only 21 and had performed well in the AZL in 2011 hitting .267/.349/.500.
Because the organization couldn't promote him to AA San Antonio, they went out and picked Jake Lemmerman in the Rule V draft and brought back Jones to play first base and put Quintana at third. Throw in the fact that first baseman Luis Tejada, also had a bad year in Fort Wayne but a good year in the Arizona League in 2012, at .293/.352/.370, and the picture for the full season teams in A-ball at Lake Elsinore and Fort Wayne begins to get very crowed.
Bauers turned 18 in October, so the best way to settle the competition instead of giving up on either Jones or Tejada, was to try to figure out a way for all three to play and the easiest and most logical was to send Bauers to extended spring and be the full time first baseman in Eugene, where he will be one of the youngest players in the Northwest League.
Come next spring it is unlikely that Jones will return for a third year in the Cal League and depending on what Tejada and Bauers do in Fort Wayne and Eugene there will be a competition for the everyday job in Lake Elsinore for 2015.
We caught up with Jake at the end of spring training to get his thoughts on his off-season and upcoming year.
How has spring training been going?
Jake Bauers: It's going good. I worked really hard in the off-season and am ready to get in my first full season.
When you talk about working hard in the off-season what does that entail? You had a pretty long year starting the season as a high school player and finishing up as a pro.
Jake Bauers: I was off for about a month and starting in November I was training at a place back home. Just hitting and getting my ground balls in every day.
You talked a little bit last year about trying to get a little bigger in the off-season. How did that go in the off-season?
Jake Bauers: I put on about 15 pounds in the off-season so I am around 215 right now.
How did you put it on?
Jake Bauers: A lot of working out and I was eating pretty clean. Lots of grilled chicken and egg whites.
Since this has been your first spring training, how has it been?
Jake Bauers: It's a good experience being around the big leaguers, especially in mini-camp when there were just forty of us. Now that everyone is out here, its mainly just a competition for spots.
It's almost like high school, you are trying to earn your way onto a team.
How does that work? All of you guys seem to get along pretty well but on the other hand there are only so many spots especially as you go up.
Jake Bauers: At the end of the day we are all in the same organization and we are all buddies, but it's like personally you want to go out and do the best that you can. When they feel you are ready to play in a certain spot they will put you there, regardless of who is in front of you or behind you.
You had a really good second half as compared to the first last year in the Arizona League. What was your biggest adjustment?
Jake Bauers: Not trying to do too much and staying in the opposite field. Just letting the inside pitches come and letting the pull happen naturally instead of trying to hit home runs. Is it kind of tough to stay within yourself when you are trying to impress people. It seems much easier to write it than to do it.
Jake Bauers: It is hard to stay focused on the task at hand. At this point I am young so I don't think they are looking for me to hit a home run every other at-bat. They want to see a good approach and using the whole field.
What has been the toughest thing about becoming a pro? Obviously you have always loved baseball but is it different now that it is your career?
Jake Bauers: It is has been a pretty easy transition so far. The biggest one is just growing up. Most eighteen year olds don't go out and do everything for themselves. Hopefully you will be in Fort Wayne. Are you ready to hit in the cold weather?
Jake Bauers: Oh yeah. [laughs] Hitting is hitting. You have to swing it either way.