With Choice Of College Arms, Orioles Nab Gausman





BALTIMORE The Orioles had their choice of top collegiate pitchers with the fourth overall pick in the draft, and they settled on LSU righthander Kevin Gausman.

Gausman was 11-1, 2.72 with 128 strikeouts in 116 innings with LSU this season—one year after going  5-6, 3.51 and 86 strikeouts in 90 innings—and scouting director Gary Rajsich expects him to move through the system quickly.
 
"We're very pleased to draft Kevin in the first round," he said. "Kevin Gausman is one of the premiere power pitchers in all of college baseball. He's a power arm with a power arsenal that he commands, and we're happy to have him as part of the Orioles organization."

The Orioles also had strong interest in high school lefthander Max Fried and San Francisco righthander Kyle Zimmer, and they at least considered Stanford's Mark Appel, who wasn't supposed to be available at No. 4. The Astros passed on Appel at No. 1, and he stayed on the board until the Pirates nabbed him with the eighth pick.

Rajsich is confident they made the right choice.

"Kevin is a strike-thrower with a power arm and he's pitched in one of the best conferences in the country, and he's performed at a high level. That's very appealing to us," Rahsich said. "Everything we know about him is great: outstanding citizen, great teammate and fierce competitor. He's tremendous."

Gausman, a draft-eligible sophomore, unleashes a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and also brings a plus changeup to the mound that's routinely clocked at 85-86 mph. The Dodgers selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, but they couldn't sign him.

The Orioles aren't sure whether Gausman, who expects a deal to get done, will pitch this season as his innings pile up at LSU, which has already advanced to the Super Regionals. Gausman wasn't sure where he'd begin his pro career.

"I didn't really know what was going to happen," Gausman said. "I think with Appel falling and everyone saying he was the best pitcher, I obviously expected him to go before me. I'm just really honored that they decided to pick me and I'm excited to see where this goes."

Gausman described himself as being "a little weird." He loves sci-fi movies and eats four mini powdered donuts between innings.

"I've been doing it for a while now," he said. "That's the way I live my life. I like to be a little different than other people."

Gausman already had a connection to the Orioles. His pitching coach is former Orioles bullpen coach Alan Dunn.

Gausman is the fourth pitcher selected by the Orioles in the first round in the last five years, joining Dylan Bundy in 2011, Matt Hobgood in 2009 and Brian Matusz in 2008. He's also the third Orioles' first round pick out of LSU, joining Mike Fontenot (19th overall in 2001) and Ben McDonald (first overall in 1989.)

BIRD SEED
• The Orioles selected pitcher Steve Johnson's contract and optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk. Johnson was prepared to opt out of his minor league deal, so the Orioles decided to put him on the 40-man roster and transfer lefthander Zach Britton to the 60-day disabled list.

• The Orioles promoted last year's first-round draft pick, Dylan Bundy, to high Class A Frederick, where he allowed three runs and struck out 13 batters in his first two starts covering 10 innings. In 10 professional starts, Bundy allowed three earned runs (five total), 14 hits, three three walks and struck out 53 in 40 innings.