SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter purposely made sure he steered away from watching pitching prospect Kevin Gausman’s first bullpen session of big league camp on Thursday.
Showalter said he didn’t want his eyes to add any pressure as the 21-year-old first-round pick tried to make an impression in his first major league spring training camp.
When Gausman, the Orioles’ first-round pick (No. 4 overall) in last year’s draft, threw his second bullpen session on Saturday, Showalter couldn’t resist sneaking a peek.
And he was impressed.
"That's the first time I got closer to him,” Showalter said. “He's got a good hand, a really good hand. He's got a changeup that will play better the higher he goes up against better hitters. When you're throwing an 87, 88 mph changeup in [rookie Class-A] Aberdeen, it's hitting pretty good speed. He's got a grasp of the changeup at a very young stage of his career. That plays. It means his breaking ball doesn't have to be that good.”
Gausman, who was in his sophomore season at LSU this time last year, spent the offseason honing his slider to compliment his fastball and changeup. He will likely open the season at Double-A Bowie this season, but should get some Grapefruit League innings early on as games start early because of next month’s World Baseball Classic.
"He's got deception in his delivery,” Showalter said of Gausman. “He's got late life. He's got a loose arm. He's got a great face. And he comes from a great conference."
That last plug given to Gausman by Showalter might be a little biased (he gave a cheeky grin as he said it). LSU is in the SEC. So is Mississippi State, where Showalter attended.