The Orioles say their seventh-round draft pick, pitcher Matt Price from the University of South Carolina, is dealing with a tight right shoulder capsule and may not pitch in a game this year.
“His physical wasn’t completely clean and they are being overly cautious,” Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said. “I’m not saying that is anything out of the ordinary, it is just a pitcher with a lot of wear and tear. It’s something that hasn’t held other pitchers back. There are some pretty famous pitchers with the same thing that he has. While we are not concerned, we are being overly cautious and will take it slow.
“They want to improve the range of motion in his shoulder. I can’t describe it as an injury because it’s not. If you put the ball in his hand today he could probably go out and throw 94 mph. But that is not in our best interest. We are just being overly cautious.”
Rajsich said even if he had known this before the draft, he still would have drafted Price where he did.
“If I had known that, no, it would not have stopped us from taking him. He passed the physical with it. It is not something that is glaringly wrong,” he said.
Price recorded 40 saves over the last three seasons at South Carolina. This past season, he went 5-5 with an ERA of 3.48 in 28 games, including five starts. In 77 2/3 innings, he allowed 55 hits with 31 walks and 94 strikeouts, and had a .198 batting average against.
Rajsich said Price could make the majors as a bullpen pitcher, but may initially be used as a starter in the O’s minors.
“He is possibly a guy that could get to the big leagues as a bullpen guy if we want to fast-track him. He’ll probably begin as starter and we’ll see how that works out and how that progresses,” Rajsich said.
Meanwhile, Rajsich said that the O’s top draft pick, LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman, is due to report to Sarasota today.
“I’m sure they’ll put him on a 10-day or two-week, get-him-ready-for-the-mound program. I’m sure he’ll want to pitch right away because he’s been working out and throwing bullpens on his own. But we’ll have to keep him from doing too much too early,” Rajsich said.
“It’s important for him to get into a good routine so he gets used to knowing what he has to do to pitch every fifth day. Just getting acclimated to the routine of pro ball is most important.”
Rajsich said Gausman could eventually throw his first few professional innings in the Gulf Coast League.
“He may,” Rajsich said. “It wouldn’t be out of the question for him to get a few innings done there. I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw a few innings there. I don’t think where he ends up (at what affiliate level) is important at all this year.”
I asked Rajsich if the Orioles were considering having Gausman pitch in the Arizona Fall League.
“I’m not sure. I think we’ll just assess how he feels and where he is at, but he’s thrown enough innings. I don’t see a need to tack on more innings in those situations. It’s possible he could go to instructional ball to work on some delivery things if our guys think he needs it,” Rajsich said.
Rajsich has heard and read all the scouting reports that contend Gausman needs work on his breaking pitches.
“It’s not a big issue, no, and there is room for improvement and once he does become more consistent with his delivery they will improve. All pitchers go through that. It’s just part of the professionalizing of them,” Rajsich said.
The Orioles’ second-round pick, University of Virginia pitcher Branden Kline, is in Sarasota now, but it may still be several weeks before he gets into a game with that coming around August 15.
Orioles director of pitching development Rick Peterson is heading to Sarasota soon to take a look at and work with both Gausman and Kline.
Rajsich also said the Orioles could still sign some amateur players. The Orioles’ scouting staff is watching summer ball play right now still looking for players.
“I think we are finished signing the ones we drafted, but that is not to say there are others out there that we could take a chance on and sign. They would be non-drafted players that are having good summers or maybe were passed over for the wrong reasons and now they are doing well and they want to sign. We may not be finished signing players and will always keep our eyes open there,” he said.