His bright future full of expectations, Orioles pitching prospect Kevin Gausman hopes his first full professional season ends at Camden Yards.
And the steps Gausman -- the No. 4 overall pick in last June’s draft -- has taken toward that goal in the offseason make the 22-year-old confident that he can end the 2013 season in a major league uniform.
“My goal is to be there as soon as I can,” Gausman said Wednesday while participating in the Orioles caravan stop in Frederick. “I’m going to work as hard I can in spring training to put that stamp to show who I am and what I can bring to the team. If it does happen, that’s what’s meant to be. But obviously that’s my goal, to get up there as quick as I can. I feel like I have the opportunity to do that this year, then yeah, that would be great.”
Along with top prospect Dylan Bundy, Gausman represents a huge part of the organization's optimism for the future. Gausman has just seven pro starts under his belt -- none lasted more than three innings -- but totaled 141 2/3 innings including his final college season at LSU, not to mention pitching in instructional league after his pro season.
He found himself on the fast track last season, beginning at short-season Class-A Aberdeen in early August and ending with Double-A Bowie, pitching three shutout innings in the Eastern League playoffs.
Gausman said he expects to begin the season back at Bowie.
“I think I’ll be starting there this year,” he said. “I think they wanted to get me ready for that, not just get me ready for the coaches but get me ready for the competition. It was the playoffs. I think that’s why they did that, to get me ready for the next year. It definitely gave me a lot of confidence.”
He spent six weeks this offseason working out at the Orioles' spring training facility in Sarasota, preparing for his first big league spring training. The focus was adding strength and weight -- he added 10 pounds to his lean frame -- to ensure his body could handle more innings.
“The biggest thing was the workouts,” Gausman said. “That what the main focus was, gaining more weight, getting more durable, being able to go deeper into games, throw more innings, prepare for every start.”
Gausman might have also quit a long-standing tradition. He’s eaten powdered mini-donuts between innings of every start since the eighth grade, a practice he stopped in his last two pro starts last season.
“I’m kind of starting to think it’s not a good thing to do for my body,” said Gausman, who has always had trouble gaining weight. “The nutritionists are telling me the same thing. We’ll see. It’s all on the field. In the college and ever since I was in the eighth grade, it was something, I just had to do it.”
Gausman, who threw a bullpen session in front of Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair in October while the Orioles were playing in Tampa Bay, threw a bullpen session for Adair Wednesday on the first day of the team’s mini-camp.
On Saturday, he will attend his first Orioles FanFest. It will be his unofficial introduction to Orioles fans.
“I’m a little nervous,” Gausman said. “It’s going to be fun. I think it’s going to be a crazy day, so I’m excited. It should be a blast.”