Even before getting drafted fourth-overall Monday by the Orioles in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, Kevin Gausman already had a taste of Baltimore during his two years at LSU.
Gausman, an All-American for the Tigers this season after going 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA with 128 strikeouts in 115 innings of work, was helped along in his development as a pitcher by two former Orioles-one in particular who Gausman can relate to having to live up to the expectation of being a high MLB draft pick.
Those mentors were LSU P coach Alan Dunn-who spent 2007-2011 as a bullpen coach and pitching coordinator for Baltimore-and former Orioles pitcher Ben McDonald, the 1989 Golden Spikes Award Winner and the first overall pick pick that same year by the team out of Gausman’school of LSU.
Gausman joined Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” this week and said he has been in constant contact with the two over the last year and that he owes his selection Monday to their direction and guidance.
“Alan Dunn came in here and taught me so much about pitching,” Gausman said. “When he talks, everyone on the pitching staff just kind of hangs on every word that he says.”
Now armed with major league expertise, he is ready to take that and hopefully return the favor to Dunn’s old employers.
“It’s an exciting time of the year for me,” Gausman said. “Obviously, yesterday was a happy day and a fun day for me and my family.”
And while he was honored to get the call, Gasman-currently still playing with LSU in NCAA Super Regionals with the chance to go to the College World Series in Omaha-says he knows that the Orioles are going to expect him to grow more and more as a thrower in order to keep the Orioles in contention.
“I guess I’m just trying to get better every day and learn from my mistakes-and trying to key in on those mistakes,” Gausman told Clark. “I’m really just trying to go out there every day knowing what I need to work on.”
And Ben McDonald-who also had the pressure of living up to being an Orioles top draft picks-has also been there bringing the insight as a major league pitcher to help Gausman detect those problems and correct them.
Gausman told Clark that he’s always been comfortable and open toward approaching McDonald with advice since the day they met.
“Now that I know him, I feel like I can call him and ask him any questions,” he said.
But Gausman did admit that Alan Dunn’s impact could be seen in his growth between his rocky freshman year and his 2012 sophomore campaign.
In Gausman’s freshman season in 2011, he admitted he had some struggles being consistent. He also wanted to be able to have an number of pitches at his disposal to keep the opposing hitters off-balance.
Dunn arrived in 2012, and the young Tiger credited the former Oriole with perfecting his repertoire pitch-by-pitch and spending that much time with him.
“I had an average slider last year, and it wasn’t very good. We started throwing a true curve-ball. We focused on that the entire fall and going into the season, and then…we focused on the slider again.”
“He came in here and developed me into who I am,” Gausman said. “He’s been great to me. He came in here and we hit the ground running.”
Gausman said Dunn helped him match his pitches to his attitude on the mound as an aggressive hurler.
“I’m more of a power pitcher, and he thought I needed a power slider,” Gausman said. “We started working on that and now I feel like I have a pretty good arsenal.”
McDonald noticed the changes personally.
“What jumps out at you is the big fastball that he has. He’s going to sit at 94-95 mph and better than that, he’s got great movement on his fastball,” McDonald noted. “His 2-seam fastball really has some nice downward sink to it, which is going to be great for Camden Yards because we all know it’s a pretty good hitter’s ballpark.”
And for now, he’s hoping to finish his journey at LSU so that he can hopefully move on to the next stage of his baseball career-hopefully suiting up for Buck Showalter in the orange and black.
“I’m really honored about the situation that I’m in right now. These months coming up will be crunch time, and we’ll see what happens.
McDonald said he expects that time to be sooner than what you think.
“He’s very mature for his age, he’s got good stuff, and I think he’s going to be a kid that’s going to move quickly through the Oriole organization,”he said. “I’d be surprised if two years from now we’re not hearing his name in the big leagues.”
WNST thanks Kevin Gausman and hopes to see him in an Oriole uniform! Hear from Kevin Gausman in the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net, as well as Ben McDonald and Alan Dunn!