Orioles pitching prospect Kevin Gausman officially reported this week to the club's major league camp in Sarasota to prep for his first full season in the organization.
The fourth overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft last June by the Orioles out of LSU, the right-hander was signed by the club just minutes before the deadline last July 13. Gausman's bonus of $4.32 million is one of the largest ever handed out by the club.
Gausman, who turned 22 in January, then went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five starts for short-season Single-A Aberdeen and Single-A Frederick. He also pitched three scoreless innings with five strikeouts in a playoff start last September for Double-A Bowie.
Counting the 123 2/3 innings he pitched last season at LSU and 18 innings with the O's affiliates last August and September, Gausman pitched 141 2/3 innings last year, not counting any innings in instructional league. He expects the club to bump that to between 160 and 180 innings this season.
"I think they know last year I got a lot of innings," he said. "But in pro ball, one of the biggest things is getting used to throwing those innings and being strong in September and October."
This is the second of a two-part interview with Gausman. In part one, he discussed the improvement in and importance of his slider.
To stay strong during a long pro season, Gausman is aware he'd like to add some bulk and weight to a slendor 6-foot-4, 185-lb. frame.
"I've tried to add some bulk," he said. "I don't know what it is, but I just can't seem to put on weight. But the Orioles told me that obviously the biggest thing is just to get stronger and be able to go deep into games."
Gausman was recently rated baseball's 26th best prospect by ESPN's Keith Law and No. 37 by MLB.com. He is often linked with Dylan Bundy, the O's top-rated prospect.
"He was the fourth pick last year (in 2011) and I was the fourth pick this year (last June)," Gausman said. "We will probably always be linked together and that is exciting. He's the No. 2 prospect in baseball for a reason and whenever I'm linked with him I'm kind of honored.
"Last year, being able to watch Dylan and (Manny) Machado get called up, that is exciting for everyone in the organization. It doesn't matter how young you are, if they think you have the talent and can bring a spark to the team. Buck (Showalter) has shown in his career he is not afraid to call guys up and make some moves. It is exciting for all the minor leaguers."
The expectations are high for Gausman as a talented pitcher and top draft pick. He doesn't shy away from that.
"I think I have higher expectations for myself than anyone could have for me," he said. "You just have to work hard. If you work hard with the right mindset, good things will happen."
Now for the real important question: Will Gausman eat powdered donuts during games this year? He became known for that at LSU, even though he said there were several games late last season when he didn't eat any donuts. Have the Orioles discouraged him from the practice?
"Nobody has really said anything too serious about it. I don't think it's the greatest thing for me, so I guess we'll just see what happens up ahead. It will be weird when I don't do it. I'm sure Brady (Anderson) will have something to say about it," he said.