Taking a closer look at the young Oriole starter's mechanics.
Kevin Gausman was the first pitcher chosen in the 2012 amateur draft, selected fourth overall out of LSU by the Baltimore Orioles. The right-hander soared through the minor leagues, earning a 2013 assignment to Double-A following just 15 innings in the low minors and then needing fewer than 50 innings at Bowie before the Orioles deemed him ready for the Show. Gausman’s quick promotion, following that of Jose Fernandez, is another example of the philosophy that powers TINSTAAPP.
Minor League Stats
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The Orioles summon one of baseball's top pitching prospects to plug a hole in their rotation.
The Situation: The Orioles have dropped six of their last seven and now find themselves four games back in the AL East. Injury and underperformance in the starting rotation have already forced the Birds’ hand, with Freddy Garcia logging four underwhelming starts over the past three weeks. Rather than turning to T.J. McFarland or Jake Arrieta for Thursday’s start north of the border, Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter will turn the ball over to the no. 2 prospect in the Orioles’ system (and no. 13 prospect in baseball), Kevin Gausman, in an attempt to inject the rotation with some life, not to mention some electric stuff.
Background: Gausman was a sixth-round selection by the Dodgers out of Grandview High School (Aurora, CO), but he turned down first-round money in favor of two years at LSU, where he immediately made an impact, finishing eighth in the SEC in strikeouts, ninth in hits allowed, and fifth in batting average against. After a strong summer as part of USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, Gausman dominated the SEC as a sophomore, leading the conference in strikeouts and finishing third nationally while serving as the Tigers’ Friday night starter and earning All-American honors from multiple publications. He was the first pitcher selected in the 2012 draft, going fourth overall to the Baltimore Orioles, and he signed a $4.32 million dollar deal, $120,000 over slot allotment.
In-person evaluations of Robert Stephenson, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer, Henry Owens, Chris Withrow, and Taijuan Walker.
When I stepped away from the second chair and into Kevin Goldstein’s vacated spot on the stage, I decided that the spine of my prospect architecture would be eyewitness scouting evaluations. The goal was not to portray myself or other members of the prospect team as industry-level scouts; being a fabulist wouldn’t benefit the product or the public paying for that product. The goal was to offer evaluations from a more personal point of view, reports that originated at the fields instead of on the phones or the search engines. I put together a team of talent evaluators I felt had the chops to sit in the stands and document the action on the field in an authentic manner. I wanted to hire the type of talent that would one day receive the bait from the private sector, joining up with the industry that I learn from on a daily basis. That team is in place.
Going forward, Baseball Prospectus will publish a weekly series featuring eyewitness evaluations from the staff, complete with scouting grades, detailed notes and (in many cases) video. These reports will attach to the player cards and offer a wealth of information throughout the season; with multiple looks from multiple sources, you will be able to track a prospect’s progression through the developmental process. As the games continue and we populate the minor-league stadiums around the country, the reports will start to pile up, and hopefully the season will conclude with a healthy reservoir of reports for you to pick through, compare, contrast, dissect and disagree with. I can’t think of a better means to study the minor-league process than with a collection of scouting reports from quality eyes, provided over the course of a season, and if everything continues as planned, for the duration of the players’ prospect journeys.
The Astros, Marlins, and Mets are all prospect hotbeds, but each team has taken a different approach with its young players, several of whom highlight this week's list.
It’s getting to be that time of year where you can start weeding out the non-contenders from the eventual non-contenders. And for those franchises, it means decisions about when to call up their prospects. Through Monday, there were five teams with a winning percentage at .400 or below—but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to throw out the Blue Jays and the Angels. Both of those teams were expected to be division contenders, and they both have too much talent to be this bad the whole year and nothing coming on the farm (at least in the near future).
But those three remaining teams (the Astros, Marlins, and Mets) are not going to be contending at any point this season, and have strong prospects in the upper minors. However, each organization has treated their top guys differently. The Marlins are apparently just throwing caution to the wind, as they have both Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna on their active roster—both of whom ended the 2012 season in High-A. The Astros, on the other hand, appear to be letting their prospects marinate until they are closer to a contention window. They have Jarred Cosart throwing well in Triple-A and George Springer absolutely killing it at Double-A, but I don’t expect to see either any time soon. Finally, the Mets have been burdened recently by financial constraints, so it was no shock to see the reports break that Zack Wheeler would be kept down in the minors until the Super Two deadline passes. The same would have been true for Travis d’Arnaud if he had stayed healthy enough for it to matter.
The prospect staff goes through the players they want to get a look at this year.
Courtney Hawkins, OF, Chicago White Sox (High-A Winston-Salem)
My appreciation of Courtney Hawkins is similar to my appreciation of Shiner Bock: it’s from Texas, I’m supposed to love it unconditionally, others love it unconditionally, I recognize some of the qualities that encourage others to love it unconditionally, but it just doesn’t tickle my fancy and I don’t freak out when it’s available. In 2013, my goal is to sit on a Winston-Salem series until the Courtney Hawkins buzz intoxicates me. I enjoy his approach and sturdy physical characteristics, but I’ve yet to witness the major-league flash, the high-end tool utility that separates good amateur prospects from good professional players. I’ve also yet to meet an amateur scout who wouldn’t walk a mile for a cooler full of Courtney Hawkins, and that fact alone makes me feel like I’m the one who is missing out, not the other way around. In 2013, I’m going to find out for sure. –Jason Parks
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Double-A Bowie)
After I just missed Gausman at both Fall Instructs and spring training, catching the right-hander throw is a high point of interest. My appetite’s been whetted by reports from a couple of contacts: a 93-97 mph explosive fastball with late life, a hard, deep swing-and-miss slider, and a deceptive fading changeup that the 22-year-old shows excellent feel for. I love watching how pitchers with Gausman’s level of stuff go about executing it. Now that he’s in the upper minors, it comes down to pitchability. Does he know how to set a hitter up to utilize the secondary offerings? Can he pitch with his fastball? Or will Gausman just try to blow everyone away? These are aspects of his game that I’ll be looking over closely, while also zoning in deeply at his developmental progress over the course of the season. –Chris Mellen
A look at five erstwhile top 100 prospects that could have surprising fantasy value in 2013.
While it’s true that spring training statistics are barely worth the internet parchment on which they are printed, spring training performances are another story. Racking up impressive statistics has little to no value to you, the fantasy player, but overall performances beget changes in player roles and confidence (or lack thereof) in player health. And it’s the contextual nature of the performance that is a net positive or negative for a player’s fantasy value in the upcoming season. To paraphrase a modern-day proverb, Rick Porcello doesn’t have to be faster than the bear—he just has to be faster than Drew Smyly to get a fantasy bump for the 2013 season.
This mini-series will focus on players who have a chance to increase or decrease their fantasy values based on their performances during spring training. And we’ll continue today by looking at five more players who have been impact prospects at some point in their careers. Each of these five players, now fighting for fantasy relevance, was once considered one of the top 50 prospects in baseball (some more recently than others), as ranked here at Baseball Prospectus or by Baseball America.
Baseball has finally arrived! And so has the much-anticipated Top 101 prospects list put together by Professor Parks and BP's minor league crew. With the opening of Spring Training, we get a mix of prospects from this list, less talented minor leaguers who still could have a big league future, and established veterans and superstars showing up in the same box score on a daily basis. I'll be keeping you updated on the performances of the more notable minor leaguers. By mid-March, many of the best prospects will be back in minor league camp getting much-needed at-bats. Some, however, have a legitimate shot at breaking camp with the big league club, a few will open some eyes before starting the season in the minors, and some could disappoint. Here's what's happened so far through the first four days worth of games ...
Evaluating the mechanics of the first five pitchers chosen in this year's draft.
The 2012 First-Year Player Draft had a tough act to follow, as last year's draft featured a historic wealth of pitching talent, including a record-setting four hurlers being selected before any hitters went off the board. This year's draft was hitter-heavy at the top, with position players selected with the top three overall picks. Pitchers then went flying off the board in five of the next six selections. The only pitcher in the discussion at no. 1 overall was Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, but his bonus demands may have been responsible for a stock drop at the 11th hour.
The draft content on MLB Network had scouting videos of the top players, including in-game footage, and I utilized these scouting clips for many of the evaluations that follow. I have also provided links to each player's “draft report” from mlb.com, though in some cases the footage leaves much to be desired. With so few pitches spread across such disparate situations, I have opted to forgo the Mechanics Report Cards for the draftees. Sample-size caveats aside, the development patterns of young pitchers can be erratic, so consider these evaluations to be more of a Mechanics Progress Report. We will tackle the pitchers selected among the top 10 overall picks, before venturing deeper into the first round next week.