Carroll County Times

Orioles Analysis: Gausman got off to quite a rough start

As a top prospect in 2009, Matt Wieters made an impact for the Baltimore Orioles very quickly. His defense behind the plate and management of pitchers instantly made the club better.

In 2012, another top prospect, Manny Machado, made an impact on the club immediately. He homered twice in his second career game and dazzled at third base during a playoff run.

As for the latest top prospect, Kevin Gausman? It's fair to say his first two outings were not as impressive.

In his debut at Toronto on May 23, with his family in the stands, Gausman did not fare too well, although he got off to a great start. After three scoreless innings, the 22-year-old gave up four runs and exited after just five innings.

His second start in Washington on Tuesday was much worse. After striking out five in his debut, he had none against the Nationals.

He gave up seven runs on eight hits in four innings. It surely left the many Orioles fans in attendance disappointed.

But Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said after the outing he still has confidence the right-hander will make an impact soon.

"He'll make the adjustment," Showalter said. "He's a good young man and a good athlete with a bright future ahead of him. I'm real glad he's ours."

That bright future may not come as soon as other young Orioles of recent memory, however. Machado has made Baltimore fans forget he is only 20 years old with his batting average well over .300 and his impressive defense.

And Wieters is wise beyond his years in calling games and working with the Orioles pitching staff, despite being just 26.

Wieters, who like Gausman had to face high expectations after being drafted, said all players have to deal with an adjustment period.

"There's going to be learning curve whether you're 21 or 39," Wieters said. "Everybody in this game, including myself are still adjusting every game that we're out there."

Gausman has shown flashes of the stuff in his arsenal that made him such a highly-touted prospect and last year's No. 4 overall pick. He hit 99 mph, despite not having much control of his slider.

"He's going to get where we want him to get. It's just not going to a perfect plan," Wieters said. "This team, we're going to treat him just like everybody else and try and find a way to make him the best he can be."

Today, Gausman is making his third career start, and his home debut, against a powerful lineup in the Detroit Tigers.

Although the Tigers have power-hitting sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in their lineup, Showalter is confident letting Gausman is the right decision.

"He's got the talent to do it and eventually he will. And I look forward to it being next time out," Showalter said. "He knows mistakes get magnified here. But it's part of the process."

The process for Gausman might end up being more difficult than Machado's though.

But for the Orioles, they've grown accustomed to their homegrown pitching prospects not pannning out.

Brian Matusz is now a reliever. Jake Arrieta and Zach Britton have struggled at the major-league level.

And former hopefuls such as Hayden Penn and Adam Loewen never worked out either. Showalter said he understands pitchers have a learning experience in the majors, and is optimistic for Gausman.

"I always look at best-case scenario. Every outing, next pitch, next inning is going to be a little better," Showalter said. "It's something you've got to work your way through."

It appears Gausman will continue to get that opportunity in the majors, rather than back at Class-AA Bowie. And it can't be much worse than having Jair Jurrjens or Josh Stinson make additional starts.

Gausman said he knew facing better hitters would be a huge step.

"I knew it was going to be a jump and there's going to be learning curves,'' Gausman said. "That's what I'm trying to look at it as, something where hopefully all this can make me better."

On Thursday, veteran Freddy Garcia tossed a gem for Baltimore.

Showalter said Gausman was paying attention.

"A couple times I looked down and Gausman was watching intently him pitching," Showalter said. "That's a good exposure."

Gausman said he's confident things will only get better.

"I know that my stuff plays here," Gausman said. "That's good to know that these guys feel like I belong here."