After taking high school players with their first-round selection in each of the last three amateur drafts, the Orioles selected right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman from LSU with the fourth overall pick of the 2012 amateur draft.
Gausman was the first pitcher selected after Stanford’s Mark Appel — the consensus top pick by most draft experts — slid down the draft board due to signability concerns. However, the Orioles were impressed with the 21-year-old’s tall stature at 6-feet-4 and high ceiling with an outstanding fastball consistently reaching the mid to upper-90s.
“Kevin Gausman is one of the premier power pitchers in all of college baseball,” scouting director Gary Rajsich told reporters in a conference call. “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.
Having worked with former Orioles bullpen coach Alan Dunn at Louisiana State, Gausman possesses a good changeup and also throws a solid two-seamer, but his breaking stuff is underdeveloped at this point. He is expected to be on a fast track to the major leagues with scouts projecting him to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter with top-end potential if he can develop more consistency with a breaking pitch.
Gausman weighs only 185 pounds, meaning he could potentially add a little more to his fastball as he gets stronger over the next couple years.
A sixth-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2010 draft, Gausman did not sign and elected to play baseball for the Tigers, where he thrived against top-notch competition in the SEC. He was 11-1 with a 2.72 earned run average and 128 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings (16 starts) this season as a draft-eligible sophomore. Gausman was 5-6 with a 3.51 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings in his freshman season in 2011.
Nicknamed “Goose” and possessing a colorful personality, Gausman said in an MLB Network profile he eats four powdered mini-donuts between innings during his starts. The right-hander tries to model his game after Phillies ace Roy Halladay.
While Appel was not expected to be available when the Orioles picked with the fourth selection, San Francisco pitcher Kyle Zimmer and high school southpaw Max Fried had also been mentioned as candidates Baltimore was considering in the first round.
The Orioles last chose a college pitcher in the first round in 2008 when they selected left-hander Brian Matusz from San Diego. Gausman is the third LSU player to be drafted by the Orioles in the first round, joining 1989 first overall pick Ben McDonald and the 19th pick of the 2001 draft Mike Fontenot.