Now that he has selected a pitcher - LSU’s Kevin Gausman - with his first-round draft pick, does that make Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich more likely to take a position player today in the draft’s second round?
“No. I’m not inclined either way (pitcher or position player). I don’t think the pick before will influence the next one. In the early rounds, I still want to get the best player,” Rajsich said last night.
Rajsich said he was surprised that three position players were taken with the three first-round picks before the Orioles’ top selection.
“Yes, I was. I didn’t expect that,” he said.
Rajsich confirmed last night that Gausman was the highest-rated player on his draft board when the Orioles were on the clock and that he had Gausman ranked a touch above Stanford right-hander Mark Appel. High school left-hander Max Fried was also linked to the Orioles in the days leading up to the draft. Did the O’s get close to taking Fried and was he very high on their board?
“He was my top high school pitcher. He was close (to the top of our board),” he said.
Rajsich said the Orioles cannot negotiate a contract with Gausman until his college season ends. LSU will play this weekend in the NCAA’s Super Regionals and a win there would send the Tigers to the College World Series. He said the Orioles would send a scout to keep tabs on Gausman this weekend at the Super Regionals.
The fact that Gausman pitched in a top college conference in front of large crowds made him even more appealing to the Orioles.
“It is one of the factors,” Rajsich said. “I wouldn’t say the major factor, but it certainly helped. He is used to the big-time competition and being on the big stage of pitching every Friday.”
Another big factor was the Orioles’ relationship with LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn. He was the Orioles’ bullpen coach from near the end of the 2007 season through 2010 and then was the Orioles’ minor league pitching coordinator until taking the LSU job in June 2011.
He worked for the Orioles before Rajsich joined the club, but the relationship with Dunn was an important one for the Orioles in their scouting of Gausman.
“He was a great source of information for us. We could ask him anything and we had several of our scouts have a history with him and knew him. We felt real comfortable with the information that we got,” Rajsich said.
Gausman has pitched 115 2/3 innings already this year, with more coming, and that could lead the Orioles toward not pitching him in their minor leagues this summer, although that decision has yet to be made.
“We’ll be careful with him I’m sure,” Rajsich said. “We’ll assess his condition and he’ll let us know how he feels once we bring him into the organization.”
So was Gausman the personal favorite of Rajsich for that top pick or more an organizational pick?
“It was both. We had a consensus in the room that he was the one we wanted. We came to it a few days ago but we weren’t sure he would be there,” he said.
Audio here: Click below to hear some of last night’s telephone press conference with Kevin Gausman.