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  • Nov

    2013 Number two prospect: Kevin Gausman - SP

    Written by Lee Tackett and Tony Pente

    #2  - Kevin Gausman - RHP
    Ht Wt  Bats Throws Born Draft
    6-4 190 L R  1/6/91 1st (4th) (2012)

    Scouting Grades - Definitions

    Current 5 Most Likely 6 Ceiling 7
    Major League Target Date


    2013 Stats - Full stats

    2Tm 82 60 4 14 82 3.51 1.15 .256 8.8 0.4 1.5 9.0 5.86
    Bal 47.2 51 8 13 49 5.66 1.34 .276 9.6 1.5 2.5 9.3 3.77

    Bio: Gausman, the fourth overall pick of the 2012 draft out of LSU, took little time to debut in an Orioles uniform. Bowie proved to be no match for Gausman’s mid 90s fastball with his staggering 49 strikeouts to just 5 walks and he made his major league debut May 23rd in Toronto, but gave up seven runs in just four innings. After four similarly tenuous starts, Gausman was optioned to Norfolk, however, just over a week later, he was recalled to provide relief to the front end of the Orioles bullpen. He earned his first major league win in long relief against the Yankees on June 28th and was effective working out of the pen before being optioned back to Norfolk to continue as a starter. The Orioles recalled Gausman on August 28th and he stayed on the roster for the remainder of the season, ultimately being used in high leverage set up situations. Although Gausman’s numbers weren’t appreciably better in his third stint, as he pitched to a 4.40 ERA in 14.1 innings, his stuff was sharper and his confidence seemed to grow with each outing.

    Stuff: Gausman’s overpowering fastball, coupled with a wipeout changeup allowed him to push for an early season call up. He shows a true upper 90s fastball and a two seam with good arm side movement in the mid-90s. However, once Gausman reached the majors, it appeared that inexperienced hitters might have contributed to his gaudy K/BB ratio. During his five starts with the Orioles, his ratio was still a solid 3.33/1, but his strikes were hittable and he surrendered seven home runs during that period. He missed too much in the middle of the plate with is fastball and for a pitch with so much velocity and movement, hitters seem to pick up the pitch. Gausman consistently sat in the high 90s with better command during his September time in the bullpen, but it may not be indicative of any wholesale changes since he was only working for short periods.

    Gausman’s changeup is his best pitch and usually sits in the low 80s with tremendous fade and sink. In fact, the pitch has so much sink that's it's classified as a fork ball by pitch f/x more times than not. It’s a plus secondary offering that he was comfortable throwing to both sides of the plate but used more effectively rm side and down and away from lefties. He used the change up more out of the bullpen and its downward, arm side action acted as a great counter to his plus fastball. Gausman’s slider continues to be a work in progress. When it is on, the slider is a fringe plus offering that settles in as a much-needed third pitch in Gausman’s arsenal, but it also flattens out at times and can be very, very hittable. Gausman gets out of his delivery at times and it shows most glaringly in his fastball and his slider. He has the frame to generate a good downward plane on the slider but needs to be more consistent. The slider may only need to be average because of how good Gausman’s fastball-changeup combination could ultimately be.

    Pitchability and Intangibles: In interviews, Gausman has stated that he gained a better understanding of how to prepare for his outings during his time with the Orioles. This is a good thing because, especially in his starts, Gausman struggled with sequencing and falling into patterns. These issues may not have been as glaring had his command been better, but Gausman needs to improve his understanding of his stuff and how to use it to dictate an at bat. Gausman’s changeup went from good to great once he entered the bullpen and he needs to build on that in 2014.

    Conclusion: 2013 was a confusing year for Gausman. He largely disappointed in his debut with the Orioles and although he may have been rushed, other 2012 draftees like Alex Wood and Michael Wacha had no such trouble with the transition. However, Gausman certainly ended the year on a high note, and was possibly the team’s most reliable reliever down the stretch, and showed two swing and miss pitches. Gausman showed the worst-case scenario for his career when he worked effectively as a high leverage reliever but there is plenty of room to grow into the top of a rotation starter that his draft pedigree dictates. The Orioles were in a difficult situation with Gausman. They likely stunted his development by bringing him up too early and then by leaving him in the bullpen. He ended up only getting 130 innings pitched in 2013 and it might have been better had he pitched all year in the minors as a starter and worked his innings load up. The organization has adhered closely to innings limits in the past and Gausman’s 2013 count will make it difficult for him to throw a full 2014 as a starter. He will be given an opportunity to compete for a rotation spot in spring training, but developmentally and innings wise, it may be beneficial for him to begin 2014 at Norfolk to develop his secondary pitches and fastball command with an eye on an early promotion. Gausman's ceiling remains a top of the rotation starter if he can show that he can command his three offerings well 100 pitches, but his floor is a two-pitch, Trevor Hoffman-like closer, and that's not too bad.

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