Less than two hours after being selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 MLB first-year player draft, LSU starting pitcher Kevin Gausman sat down next to Baltimore Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich for a conference call.
Rajsich didn’t waste any time speaking very highly of his first-round pick, starting the 20-minute Q&A session off by describing Gausman as a “premier power pitcher in college baseball over the last two years.”
Heading into Monday evening’s first round, it was Stanford’s junior starting pitcher, Mark Appel, who was projected to go off the board to the Houston Astros at No. 1. Instead, Houston snagged shortstop Carlos Correa out of Puerto Rico’s Baseball Academy.
With Appel making a free-fall to the No. 9 slot of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the door was open for Baltimore to grab Gausman (11-1, 2.72 ERA in 115.2 innings pitched in 2012 for the Tigers) off the board.
"This day has kind of been a roller coaster. I didn't sleep very much last night and woke up this morning and didn't know what to think," Gausman said. "I really didn't know what was going to happen. It was a little weird to sit back and watch. I was kind of shocked that I was taken by Baltimore. Obviously I'm very honored".
It was a tough decision for the Baltimore front office, but they are confident they made the right decision in selecting Gausman over Appel.
“We saw appealing things about both pitchers, but we got the one we really wanted,” said Rajsich.
When asked what he thought stood out most about him, Gausman claimed that he always thought of himself as quirky, or weird. When he’s pitching, Gausman said he always eats four mini powdered donuts in between innings, which is something that started back in middle school.
Putting his mid-90s fastball and his quirkiness aside, there will still be a question mark or two surrounding the righty. When asked about his breaking pitches, both Rajsich and Gausman agreed that they have been inconsistent.
Rajsich said, “We’ve seen Kevin’s breaking ball when it’s good, but it’s inconsistent. We’d like to see it be a bit more consistent.”
Gausman said, “Like Gary said, some days I have trouble finding it. I haven’t had much time to develop my curveball, so it may take a little time. I think I’ll be a fastball/change-up guy my entire career.”
The 6’4’’/195 pound college sophomore is one of the most pro-ready starters in the draft, meaning we may not be all that far from seeing him in an Orioles uniform.
“I can’t imagine being in the minor leagues when I was 19,” Gausman stated. “Coming here and playing in the SEC for two years was huge in gaining experience. I made leaps and bounds in maturing not only as a player but as a person since high school.”
As a freshman at LSU in 2011, Gausman pitched nearly 100 innings, and he added over 100 more in 2012. Now 21, Gausman’s experience and maturity in addition to his on-field success in the SEC was enough for him to leap five picks ahead of the projected No. 1 pitcher in the draft.
Rajsich has not made any decisions on whether Gausman will pitch this season or not, however. Considering his Tigers are still alive in the 2012 College World Series, which is currently awaiting results to decide who will be playing against LSU in the Super Regional, Gausman isn’t quite finished pitching at the college level quite yet.
“Once he’s in the system we’ll evaluate him and make the decision at that time,” Rajsich told the media.
If there’s one thing we could take away from the first night of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft, it’s that Gausman’s rare combination of power pitching and quirkiness may allow him to make quick work of the Orioles’ farm system.
Ben Heck is a Contributor for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.