Birds banking on Gausman

The Orioles sat fourth in Monday's First-Year Player Draft and watched three position players get selected, which gave them their choice and a host of pitching prospects at the ready.

Baltimore went with Kevin Gausman, a 21-year-old right-hander from LSU, and bolstered its staff of arms with another top pick.

Gausman is 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, and in the midst of his sophomore season - his age made him draft eligible - with the Tigers. In 2010 he was drafted by the Dodgers in the sixth round (Gausman was ranked 50th on Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects list) but chose college instead.

Gausman is 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA in 16 starts for LSU this year. The Tigers are one of the teams competing for a College World Series title, so Orioles fans may be able to catch one of the Colorado native's upcoming starts on TV.

Gausman said he was somewhat surprised to see his name still around after watching the first three picks go by - Houston picked Puerto Rican high school shortstop Carlos Correa at No. 1, Minnesota followed with touted prep shortstop Byron Buxton, and Seattle took catcher Mike Zunino with the third pick.

The top pitcher on the board, according to several draft gurus, was Stanford's Mark Appel. But the Orioles went with Gausman and made him the highest drafted LSU player since Baltimore drafted Ben McDonald in 1989.

"I'm excited to see where this goes," Gausman said in a media teleconference Monday night. "It was really a roller coaster for me, I didn't really sleep very much [Sunday] night. Sometimes you know who's going to take you and sometimes you don't. I didn't really know what to think."

Gary Rajsich, Baltimore's scouting director, seemed confident the Orioles chose wisely.

Gausman is a power pitcher throws in the mid-90s and said he added a curveball, his fifth pitch, earlier this year with the help of LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn, a former Orioles bullpen coach.

Rajsich called Gausman "one of the premier power pitchers in all of college baseball" and praised him for being able to shine on a big stage like the Southeastern Conference on Friday nights.

"We're very excited to have him in the Orioles organization," Rajsich said. "Kevin has a chance to move through our system quickly. ... We feel like we got the one we really wanted."

Neither Rajsich nor Gausman seemed worried about the young pitcher soon agreeing to a contract with the Orioles, despite new rules this year under the collective bargaining agreement that altered how much money each club can spend on draft picks and moved the signing deadline up one month to July 15.

In fact, Gausman said in speaking with McDonald about the Orioles he was more eager to get a taste of Charm City cuisine.

"All I keep hearing about are the crabs," Gausman said.

For now, Gausman is trying to help LSU advance through the NCAA Super Regionals. And Rajsich is excited about the future of Baltimore's top pick.

"He's ready to get out there to begin his pro career," Rajsich said. "We have an opportunity for him to move quickly through our system and pitch in Baltimore very soon."

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