BALTIMORE — It came down to the final nervous moments, but the Orioles signed No. 4 overall pick Kevin Gausman to bring another talented pitcher to the organization.
The LSU right-hander agreed to terms on a contract just before the 5 p.m. deadline on Friday and announced the news himself on his Twitter account.
“I was confident we were going to get a deal done,” Gausman said. “I feel so blessed to have this opportunity and just real excited about this road I will be starting soon.”
According to Keith Law, Gausman signed a deal worth $4.32 million, which was more than the assigned pool amount of $4.2 million for the No. 4 overall pick in the first round. However, the Orioles will not be required to pay any tax because they stayed within their allotted bonus pool under the new collective bargaining agreement.
Scouting director Gary Rajsich said the organization was confident they would sign the talented 21-year-old, but there were some nervous moments along the way. A report earlier in the week hinted that Gausman was “strongly considering” returning to LSU for his junior season, and the pitcher said it was a difficult decision to leave Baton Rouge.
“We are thrilled to have Kevin,” Rajsich said. “I do love a power pitcher with a fastball with a lot of movement on it who can control the speed of bats with his changeup. He can throw it for strikes back-to-back so it is an effective pitch for him.”
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said the organization hasn’t finalized plans for where Gausman will report for the remainder of the 2012 season, but a decision will be made over the next few days. He reminded everyone that Gausman had a heavy workload for the Tigers this season, which will factor into how much he will pitch in the Orioles’ system for the remainder of this year.
Gausman possesses mid-90s velocity on his four-seam fastball and also throws a two-seamer he feels is appropriate for pitching at homer-happy Camden Yards. His changeup is considered a plus-pitch, but his breaking stuff — a curveball and a slider — is still a work in progress.
“How long I spend in certain places [in the minors] is going to be determined by those pitches and whether I’m going to keep one or try to develop both,” Gausman said. “That will be a big difference maker for me.”
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound draft-eligible sophomore went 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA (115 2/3 innings), 128 strikeouts, 27 walks and two complete games in 16 starts for LSU this season. Gausman was 5-6 with a 3.51 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings in his freshman season in 2011.
He was originally selected out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2010 draft but elected to go to LSU instead. Gausman is the third first-round pick the Orioles have selected from LSU, joining Ben McDonald in 1989 and Mike Fontenot in 2001.
To hear Gausman’s introductory press conference as well as comments from Duquette and Rajsich, visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.