BOSTON - In the end, the Orioles couldn’t resist the allure of a college pitcher. And they had their pick of the best ones.
Despite strong interest in high school left-hander Max Fried and San Francisco right-hander Kyle Zimmer, and the unexpected availability of Stanford’s Mark Appel, the Orioles chose LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman with the fourth-overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
Gausman was 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings with LSU. He held Oregon State to one run over eight innings in the NCAA regionals.
Gausman was 5-6 with a 3.51 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 89 2/3 innings in his freshman season in 2011. Before that, he was named a two-time All-State selection at Grandview (Colo.) High, two-time Perfect Game High School All-American, 2009 Under Armour All-American, 2009 AFLAC All-American and gold medal winner with the USA Baseball Junior National Team.
Gausman, a draft-eligible sophomore, unleashes a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and also retires hitters with a plus-changeup that’s routinely clocked at 85-86 mph.
The Dodgers selected Gausman in the sixth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, but they couldn’t sign him.
Gausman’s pitching coach is former Orioles bullpen coach Alan Dunn.
Tonight’s opening round began with the Astros taking shortstop Carlos Correa of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, an absolute shocker considering every draft expert had Appel going No. 1. The Twins selected high school outfielder Byron Buxton, also coveted by the Orioles, and the Mariners chose Florida catcher Mike Zunino.
Appel sat there at No. 4, but the Orioles didn’t take him.
Gausman becomes the third Orioles’ first-round pick out of LSU, joining Mike Fontenot, 19th overall in 2001, and Ben McDonald, first overall in 1989.
I’ll update this entry later. Be sure to check Steve Melewski’s blog for more information on tonight’s pick and quotes from scouting director Gary Rajsich.
Update: Gausman said he expects to get a deal done. Scouting director Gary Rajsich said he expects Gausman to move through the system quickly. However, it hasn’t been determined whether Gausman will pitch in the minors this season as his innings continue to build at LSU.
“We’re very pleased to draft Kevin in the first round,” Rajsich said. “Kevin Gausman is one of the premier 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.
“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.
“Everything we know about him is great. Outstanding citizen, great teammate and fierce competitor. He’s tremendous.”
Gausman described himself as being “a little weird.” He likes science fiction 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.”
Former LSU and Orioles pitcher Ben McDonald, the first-overall pick in 1989, has sold Gausman on the team and the city of Baltimore.
“I’ve met him and he has great things to say about (the Orioles),” Gausman said. “And all I keep hearing about is the crabs. I’m excited to try the crabs.”
Melewski will have more from Gausman and Rajsich on his blog.