Kevin Gausman and Gary Rajsich talk about first-rounder’s signing

At the press conference to announce his signing, O’s first-round pick Kevin Gausman was asked what today was like for him as he waited to see if he would get signed by the Orioles.

“Kind of stressful,” Gausman said after agreeing to a reported $4.32 million bonus with the club. “Didn’t sleep very much last night and wasn’t allowed to eat until about 1:30 today because I got my physical done. I was a little bit grumpy today, trying to get some food in my belly. I was confident we were going to get a deal done. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity and just real excited about this road I will be starting soon.

“I’d say my strength is definitely my fastball and my changeup. My changeup was probably the main reason I got drafted by the Orioles. My fastball is kind of a sinking fastball and Camden Yards, the ball can fly out of here sometimes. But the biggest focus for me will be my two breaking pitches, my slider and curveball.

“Depending how long I spend in certain places (in the minors) is going to be determined by those pitches and whether I’m going to keep one or try to develop both. That will be a big difference-maker for me.”

What about Gausman’s comments in the New Orleans paper earlier this week about the possibility of going back to LSU for his junior season?

“I would say it was a difficult decision,” Gausman said. “I love LSU and I always will. Baton Rouge will always be a second home to me. But I’m happy that we got this done and happy to start this road with a great young organization that is up and coming. I think this is the perfect time to get started in this organization and hopefully make an impact eventually.

“Now that I know I am going to be an Oriole, I want to experience the things in Baltimore that I have heard so much about - Fells Point, you know all the different things, the harbor. Being from Denver, that is like a whole other world to me. I like different experiences and I am excited to see Baltimore and soak in every moment of this.”

gausman-kevin-pitch-sidebar.jpgGausman said he has kept in shape since his college season ended and he feels ready to start whenever the Orioles want to assign him to a team.

“I feel great right now. I took about two and a half weeks off from throwing. Been throwing about three and a half weeks now and I’ve thrown a couple of bullpens. I’ve stayed in shape. Every Monday, I ran Red Rocks (near my home) in Colorado and me and my brother got the highest mountain in Colorado a couple of days ago. I feel ready and that little bit of time I took off was just what I needed. I’m ready to get going.”

Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich was asked about signing 30 of his 40 draft picks and nine of his top 10 selections.

“Yes, I think we accomplished what we tried to do. I’m pleased with the draft overall but getting Kevin, he was the keystone of the whole thing,” Rajsich said.

“We were optimistic it would get done, but there were some stressful times. But we are thrilled to have Kevin. I do love a power pitcher with a fastball with a lot of movement on it who can control the speed of bats with his changeup. He can throw it for strikes back-to-back so it is an effective pitch for him.”

Rajsich said the Orioles did not sign their fifth-round pick, Texas high school pitcher Colin Poche.

“He did not accept our last offer,” Rajsich said. “I guess he had made up his mind he was going to school. We found out he was going to school and that made that money available to Kevin.”

Rajsich also confirmed that the Orioles would not need to pay any tax on their total dollars spent on this draft, as part of the new draft rules this year.

“We stayed within our bonus pool,” he said.

I asked Rajsich if he came close to signing any other players today beyond Gausman and Poche?

“We talked to a few of them today and we couldn’t strike any deals, so we are done at thirty (signings),” he said.

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