With less than 24 hours now until Friday's 5 p.m. deadline to sign 2012 draft picks, the Orioles remain optimistic that they will come to terms with their top pick, LSU pitcher Kevin Gausman.
The Orioles and Gausman's representatives at Legacy Sports have had ongoing talks throughout today, and it appears that they have closed the gap somewhat in terms of a signing bonus.
The pool allotment for the draft's fourth pick is $4.2 million, and an industry source said he believed Gausman's reps were seeking slightly over that amount. The Orioles reportedly signed their 10th-round pick, Dallas Baptist shortstop Joel Hutter, to a small bonus which was around $100,000 under the slot amount for the pick. No doubt Gausman's reps are aware that some of that money could be used toward the signing of the right-hander.
As of early Thursday evening, the bottom line was that the Orioles feel the deal can get done, and they were encouraged by the constant dialogue between the sides today.
One thing we know for sure is that Gausman will not get a major league contract and 40-man roster spot, as Dylan Bundy did last year. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, draft picks can no longer get major league contracts.
If he signs, Gausman would then report to Florida for orientation and to build up some arm strength, as he has not pitched since the College World Series. The Orioles would likely get him to an affiliate to at least pitch in a few games this year.
The Orioles have not ruled out signing fifth-round pick Colin Poche, the high school pitcher from Texas, amid reports that he will go to college at the University of Arkansas and not turn pro.
The Orioles have come to terms with 37th-round pick, pitcher/outfielder Derrick Bleeker from Arkansas and 40th-round pick, outfielder Raymond Hunnicut from Central High in Hampshire, Illinois.
Counting Bleeker and Hunnicut, the Orioles have agreed to terms with 29 of their 40 picks, and it is possible they may still add one or two more beyond their attempts to sign Gausman and Poche.