As the amateur signing deadline draws nearer, the Orioles are still negotiating with their top pick, LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman, who was the fourth overall selection in the June draft.
“We are making progress,” said Orioles’ director of scouting Gary Rajsich on Thursday morning. “We’re waiting to hear their next proposal.”
The Orioles and Gausman have until 4:59 p.m. Friday to agree to a deal. If they can’t, Gausman would return to LSU for his junior year while the Orioles would get a compensatory pick, the fifth overall, in the 2013 draft as well as their usual first-round pick.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, this year’s bonus for fourth overall is a suggested $4.2 million. The Orioles have stayed at suggested slot for seven of the eight Top 10 picks they have signed this year.
One was $100,000 under slot and fifth-rounder Colin Poche, a Texas prep left-hander, has not signed. Poche is expected to attend the University of Arkansas, but the Orioles aren’t officially shutting the door on him until Friday’s deadline passes.
The club did agree to terms with two more draftees: 37th-rounder Derrick Bleeker out of the University of Arkansas and their 40th and final rounder Raymond Hunnicutt, a high school outfielder from Illinois.
Bleeker is particularly intriguing – and could have the upside of someone selected much higher. A 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, he was drafted as a right-handed pitcher despite making just two appearances on the mound for the Razorbacks in relief. He struck out three of the five batters he faced.
Bleeker was primarily a corner outfielder for a strong Arkansas program that made the College World Series tournament this year. The junior hit .250 with six homers and 23 RBIs this season.
He will begin his career in the outfield with the Orioles, but will also work with the pitchers during the organization’s instructional league before the club decides exactly which path he will take.
The Orioles have agreed to terms with at least 29 of their 40 picks.