Baltimore used its first round selection to snag Louisiana State University’s hefty right-handed starter Kevin Gausman with the fourth overall pick in this past June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Gausman, pitching 123 1/2 innings as an All-American sophomore at LSU this past spring, started out his professional career in Sarasota for instruction.
The 21-year old had seriously considered returning for his junior year at school before the Orioles signed him to a last-second deal, just before the deadline in mid-July. The deal included a signing bonus worth $4.32 million, which is the third largest in O’s franchise history–just behind Matt Wieters’ $6 million in ’07 and Manny Machado’s $5.25 million in 2010.
In early August Gausman received news that he would be called up to short season Single-A Aberdeen to make his professional debut with the IronBirds on Monday August 6.
On a three-inning limit, Gausman was near-flawless in his debut with the ‘Birds, striking out two batters and not allowing a single hit. Combined with his second start, and home debut, six days later and Gausman has put up a stat line of six innings pitched, one hit and five strikeouts against his 19 batters faced.
His six shutout innings over a one week span was all it took for team officials to give him the nod for another call-up.
Skipping the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds and heading straight to High-A Frederick, the 21-year old will make his debut with the Keys on Saturday August 18 at Harry Grove Stadium.
On his way to Frederick, Gausman made a stop at Double-A Bowie on Wednesday afternoon. Joining the team one day after Dylan Bundy threw 5 1/3 innings in his first Double-A start, Gausman threw a bullpen session in the afternoon and joined the team, in uniform, in the dugout for its matchup with the Erie SeaWolves.
“I watched briefly,” Manager Gary Kendall said of Gausman’s afternoon ‘pen session. “He’s got a great presence about him and I’ve heard nothing but good things. To me he seems like a very likable guy and he fits in well here.”
The 6’4”/185 pounder is known for his mid-90s fastball and his knack to attack hitters, in addition to his quirkiness. His mix of fastballs and change-ups may be what most impresses many scouts, as well as the movement he has on his fastball–which he has great command of.
Bowie coaches weren’t able to get an in-depth look at Gausman during his afternoon session, considering it was just a one day stop in. But Kendall wasn’t the only one who was impressed.
Pitching coach Kennie Steenstra, a former minor league pitcher himself, seemed most impressed by the youngster’s strength.
“He’s got a frame that he can fill out and lots of arm strength,” Steenstra said following Bowie’s third consecutive win against Erie. “He had a nice game of long toss before he started throwing.
“I can see why the Orioles like him.”
Alongside Bundy, the organization’s top two prospects just so happen to be powerful, flame-throwing right handed starting pitchers with a lot of upside.
With the Orioles suddenly in the middle of a playoff push in mid-August, things could get interesting in the coming years as Gausman continues to mature and grow into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.