Buck on Gausman and AL East (plus Duquette video)

LAKE BUENVA VISTA, Fla. - At some point late next March, the Orioles will have a decision to make on Kevin Gausman, one of their top young pitching prospects.

Will he begin the season pitching as part of the Orioles roster, or does he need to begin the year at Triple-A for more minor league seasoning?

Mananger Buck Showalter, while confident in Gausman's ability to now get big league hitters out, also knows he is not a finished product yet.

So how will he make that decision when the time comes for Gausman? Does he start in the majors or the minors?

"Some of it is comparatively speaking," Showalter said." "You say okay, 'I don't think he's obviously not going to be a finished product.' It's a process you have to go through with young pitchers, and he's somewhere in that process. I feel confident he's going to be a good pitcher for us. But we think Tilly (Chris Tillman) has graduated and made some strides. And now the challenge is staying there with Chris.

"Gaus has got stuff to pitch up there. I think what he was exposed to last year was invaluable, starting and relieving, he got to see a lot of different things. And I thought it was important for him to shut down, get away from it. And I think we're going to see a pretty good pitcher this spring."

With some young pitchers, teams reach a point where they let the player finish his development at the big league level.

"Yes, but it depends on who it is," Showalter said. "The better your stuff, the more you can finish there."

During his briefing with reporters Tuesday, Showalter was asked a couple of times about the competitive American League East.

"It's always a given with the other teams in our division, that they're going to be better," Showalter said. "I mean, God bless them. I'd do the same thing if I was them. Obviously it's (the division) improved, at the very least. A lot of time between now and the last week in March.

"I don't pay near as much attention to what they're doing. It's a given, especially the Red Sox and Yankees, they're going to make a lot of splashy things. But I'd do the same thing if I was them. And they do it real well. Boston did a great job of getting talented players and good makeup guys last year and it played well for them."

Is the AL East looking like a wide-open, five team race in 2014?

"If you talk to the Yankees or Red Sox, Tampa - I don't know," Showalter said. "Wide open? I'm trying to figure out a way for us to be involved in it. It's almost a given that the other teams are going to be able to because of some of the things that they're able to do.Those are some of the better teams in the American League. We're trying to paddle underneath the water and stay up a little.

Video interview: Below is an exclusive MASNsports.com interview with Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette.

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