While Gausman ponders whether to sign, Ripken prepares for college

The Orioles have until 5 p.m. today to sign LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman, the fourth overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft. They're on the clock again.

Gausman let it be known that his heart is still at LSU. The Orioles are trying to get the rest of him.

I'll be convinced that they sign him until they don't. It usually comes down to the final minutes. It's a silly tug of war.

The slotted amount for the fourth pick is $4.2 million. Can you imagine saying, "No thanks," and going back to college?

The Orioles conceded long ago that they wouldn't sign 20th-round pick Ryan Ripken, who's headed to the University of South Carolina.

Cal Ripken Jr. told me last month that he didn't know in advance whether the Orioles were going to draft his son. He hadn't been given any sort of indication. They scouted Ryan. They brought him to Camden Yards for a workout. But their intentions remained a mystery.

"There had been some people out to see him over time," Cal said. "He's at the stage of his life where they weren't talking to me. They were talking to him. He was told that somewhere in the middle rounds, they thought he might be drafted. He was kind of on pins and needles for a minute, but he was walking much taller in his shoes once he was drafted. And I think in the end - I try to keep everything in perspective - it's affirmation that you have potential, because that's what the draft is. You're trying to project players. And in his case, the youngest being in high school, to what they will be. Colleges are doing that, as well, but they're also looking at, 'What are you now?' To me, it's affirmation that he's got potential, and he felt good about that."

Ripken said he heard from a few people in the scouting community that word was out that Ryan would be a "tough sign."

"I don't know whether I ever gave off that vibe or he ever gave off that vibe," Ripken said. "I know you take things as they come and you kind of analyze the situation as it is. In this situation, I haven't had any talks with the Orioles, so I don't really know. I know we took a little time to let him graduate (from Gilman) and let things sink in. But he's been very excited since he signed with South Carolina. It would seem like it would take something pretty special for him to change his mind."

The college experience figures to benefit Ryan, a left-handed first baseman who's still filling out his 6-foot-6 frame and sharpening his skills at the plate.

"Each person's a case-by-case in what you need to develop in and when," Ripken said. "Ryan is a little bit of a late bloomer. He's got a long frame, lanky, still coming into his body in a lot of ways. He amazes me in many ways, the way he plays first base, the way the ball comes off his bat with ease, and I've gotten a chance to see him more than most.

"I think if you are developing, whether you need it emotionally or you need it physically, sometimes college is the right option. College programs are much better now. And talking to the South Carolina guys, they're good baseball guys and they give you a level of comfort that, if he goes there, then he'll be developing in a similar path that he would be in professional baseball."

Meanwhile, the Sports Legends Museum announced that individual tickets for its annual gala are now on sale. "Cal & Eddie: A Legendary Evening" will pay tribute to Ripken and Eddie Murray as they're inducted into the Sports Legends Museum Hall of Legends.

The gala will take place Wednesday, Sept. 5, from 6-9 p.m. at the Hilton Baltimore.

Individual tickets are limited and available at $150 for museum members and $200 for non-museum members. The evening will include a cocktail reception with an open, premium bar; silent auction; heavy hors d' oeuvres; and a program celebrating the careers of Ripken and Murray. Sponsorship opportunities are also available and include an exclusive VIP reception and photo opportunity with the honorees.

Anyone interested in attending should contact Whitney Edmonds at 410-727-1539, ext. 3033 or via email at WhitneyE@BabeRuthMuseum.com.

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