O’s scouting director Gary Rajsich: Gausman was top player on team’s draft board

Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich was asked tonight on a conference call with Baltimore reporters about his decision to select LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman with the fourth pick in round one tonight. Stanford pitcher Mark Appel fell down the board and was available at four. What was the deciding factor between the two pitchers for Rajsich?

“There were appealing things about both pitchers, although we feel we got the one we really wanted,” Rajsich said.

Rajsich told MASNsports.com tonight that Gausman was the highest-rated player on his draft board when it was the Orioles’ turn to pick and that he had Gausman rated a little above Appel, who some projected would be the draft’s No. 1 selection.

“He was our highest-rated guy, yes,” Rajsich said of the players available when the Orioles were on the clock.

So the Orioles did not make their pick as they did because Appel could have cost more or any signability issues?

“Correct,” he said.

Gausman, who will pitch for LSU this week in the NCAAs Super Regionals, is 11-1 with an ERA of 2.72 with 128 strikeouts over 115 2/3 innings so far this year for the Tigers.

“He’s pitched on Friday night in one of the best conferences in the country at a high level and that was very appealing to us. Everything we know about him is great. He’s an outstanding citizen, a good teammate and fierce competitor,” Rajsich said.

“Our area scout, Dave Jennings, gave the all clear on his makeup. He’s tremendous and Dave has drafted several players on our roster already like (Nick) Markakis, (Matt) Wieters and Xavier Avery. We’re pleased Dave was able to identify another super player for us.”

Rajsich was asked if he expects Gausman to pitch in the Orioles’ minor league system later this summer.

“I think once we get him into the system we’ll assess where he is. We’ll wait to see how many innings he’s thrown and where he is at with his conditioning and see how he feels and make that decision at that time,” Rajsich said.

“Kevin Gausman is one of the premier power pitchers in all of college baseball. He’s pitched at a high level in front of a lot of people every Friday night for the past two years and very successfuly. He has a power arm and power arsenal that he commands and we’re excited to have him.”

While scouts are obviously high on Gausman’s talent, there have been some reports that his breaking pitches need work.

“We’ve seen Kevin’s breaking balls good, although they’ve been inconsistent,” Rajsich said. “Some of our guys have seen him above average so I think it’s in there, there are both (slider and curveball) in there and both are effective. It’s a matter of making them a little more consistent.”

Rajsich did not express any issues about signing his first Orioles’ top pick.

“Kevin has a chance to move through our system quickly. Everything we’ve heard, he’s ready to go. He’s ready to get out there to begin his pro career. We have an opportunity for him to move quickly through our system and pitch in Baltimore very soon,” he said.

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