Kevin Gausman, MLB Ready?

Rick Peterson looked on from the Bowie Baysox’s dugout as Kevin Gausman stated his case. The Orioles’ prized right hander decimated the Trenton Thunder over six innings, striking out ten and allowing few well hit balls. With Baltimore four games behind the American League East division leaders and their rotation in shambles, expect Gausman to earn a promotion after the super-two deadline passes in mid-June. In eight starts with Double-A Bowie, Gausman has been nearly untouchable. He’s third in the Eastern League in FIP, and owns a 25.7% strikeout rate and a 2.6% walk rate.

The high-waisted 6’3″ right hander has a long, lean frame and he’s listed at just 190 lbs. There is plenty of room for growth throughout his body, if he should choose to cultivate mass. In the windup, Gausman has a high leg kick. He brings his left leg to his hands, which rest chest high at takeaway before he delivers the ball from a high three quarter arm slot.

Gausman works off his 96-98 MPH four-seam fastball with features significant arm side run and sink when located down in the zone. The pitch frequently touched 99 MPH, even in later innings. When elevated up in the zone, the pitch maintained velocity but flattened out and became hittable. On Friday, Gausman demonstrated a clear preference to keep the pitch down in the zone — where it was most effective — a tendency which may explain his 51.5% ground ball rate this year.

At 22, his command of the pitch is well above average. He worked both sides of the plate with easy and showed no restraint when throwing inside. When he misses his spot, he misses down in the strike zone. For most minor league strikeout artists, their swing and misses are a product of good stuff and inducing swings on pitches outside the zone. Gausman, however, attacks hitters. He pounds the lower half of the zone with his fastball and his strikeouts are the product of getting a head of hitters and complementing his fastball with two lethal secondary offerings.

Gausman can command of an elite fastball, but his changeup is his best offering. He maintains his arm speed on the 82-84 MPH pitch, which features a massive velocity differential from his fastball. The change is not only deceptive, it has exceptional movement. Its drop and fade are so dramatic they mimic a breaking ball. In the first inning, scouts questioned whether he threw the change or whether all of his secondary offerings were sliders. After vigorous debate, they decided he threw an equal mix.

When the Orioles drafted Gausman out of Louisiana State University many questioned the merits of his breaking ball. When he makes his debut, no one will deny it is a quality offering. At its best, the slider has a tight 11-5 break with no visible hump. In the past, the pitch did not feature as much sharp vertical break. Like his changeup, his slider is thrown at 82-84 MPH, but it breaks in the opposite direction. It’s a true major league quality out pitch.

Additionally, Gausman threw four cutters. Three were thrown in the high 80s but one was thrown at 93 MPH and was roped into the left center field gap by Slade Heathcott for a triple. The appearance of the cutter took me by surprise, given the Orioles’ stance against Dylan Bundy using the pitch. *Update: These were sliders. Gausman does not throw a cutter. But, this hard, tight slider closely resembled a cutter.*

There is little Kevin Gausman can learn by remaining in the minor leagues. To nitpick, he could throw his slider with more consistent shape. At times, it was loose and broke early. But, the “good” slider was more frequently present. Also, he could also change hitters’ eye-levels better by working more effectively up in the zone with his fastball. He was content to work down in the zone a majority of the time.

It may not happen over night, but Gausman will develop into a front of the rotation arm.

With 46 innings under his belt in 2013, the Orioles will likely allow Gausman to throw between 100 – 120 more innings this season. It would be wise if the majority of them were for Baltimore.


I apologize for the roller-coaster effect. I’m using new editing software.




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Formerly of Bullpen Banter, JD can be followed on Twitter.


57 Responses to “Kevin Gausman, MLB Ready?”

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  1. Jason Norman says:

    HYPE!

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    • Mr Anderson says:

      Good article but man.. There’s 3 or 4 words spelled wrong or used in the wrong place. Sorry to be a grammar Nazi but it’s hard to take an article seriously with improper grammar.

      Thanks for the piece though.. I’m an LSU fan and have watched Gausman since day 1 in College (every start).. Obviously he’s gotten better on his secondary pitches and the thing you didn’t mention was his mental makeup. Dude is a fierce competitor and does not get rattled which is HUGE in a young pitcher

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  2. Tvators says:

    Would you drop G. Cole for gaus?

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    • Jason Norman says:

      Not JD, but if you can’t have them both (as I do in my league), try to couple Cole with something else before dropping him. I have to keep reminding myself that Miller went through a rough patch, so gotta give Cole more leash than 10 starts in AAA.

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    • rickeycanstillplay says:

      In a re draft? Sure. Dyansty or deep keeper, Cole has value. Target a rebuilding team.

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    • JD Sussman says:

      Skorupa should be writing up Cole shortly, he saw him this weekend. I wouldn’t ever drop a guy like Cole but it sounds like you’re in a shallow league if Gausman is available. But, if I had to pick one, it would be Gausman based on what Al told me.

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  3. Sky says:

    Any thoughts on why Gausman was hit pretty solidly earlier in the year, even though he had a sick 30/1 SO/BB at one point?

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    • JD Sussman says:

      I heard we was focusing on throwing his slider significantly more. At times, he’ll hang it.

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      • E-Dub says:

        In college, Gausman would sometimes get hit even when locating the FB down in the zone (good plane, but caught too much of the plate), bolstering J.D.’s assertion that Gaus needs to work on changing hitters’ eye level. He got hit a surprising amount for a guy with his stuff, but the slider will make a big difference. His sequencing will be so much more effective now.

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    • geefee says:

      Eh…

      Maybe it was that slider thing, but he also just plain wasn’t going to continue to allow hits at that rate. There are flukes in the minors too.

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    • SDM says:

      It might be that he’s tipping his pitches, that video in the article, it didn’t look like he was getting the same arm speed on pitches, he slowed down his arm several multiple times in that video when he wasn’t throwing his heater. It wasn’t every time, but he definitely did it enough times that it was noticeable to me, i’m sure it was picked up by others.

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      • Mr Anderson says:

        He’s probably just working on certain pitches like guys do in Spring Training. Minors are for players that are trying to get better and I”m sure he wouldn’t pitch like that in the Show by throwing a certain pitch way more than normal. Just working on his craft in my eyes.

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  4. mike wants wins says:

    Worying about super 2 is so short sighted, if your team is good. They should worry more about a “known” present than some unknown future.

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    • jpg says:

      When it comes to pitchers I couldn’t agree more because of the attrition rate. So many of these guys blow out their elbows and need TJ surgery which could lead to a year+ of lost service time on the major league DL. Just in general these guys can be good for 3 years and flame out or be good for 13 years. You just never know with pitchers. Why hold a guy back to save money “down the road” when there is a good chance there may not be a “down the road”to worry about? With hitters it’s a little more understandable.

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  5. LuckyStrikes says:

    This is about as glowing a report I’ve seen on a pitching prospect this year. Sounds like three plus pitches. There’s no doubt he can help BAL now.

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    • JD Sussman says:

      The slider can come and go but it clearly showed that potential Friday. Gausman is easily one of the best pitchers in the minors, so it shouldn’t come as surprise that the report is glowing.

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  6. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Are you gonna write up any of the Trenton players?

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    • JD Sussman says:

      Yes. But I’m debating how to do that. I’ll write about Flores, Murphy, Austin and Heathcott. I may pair Murphy with Jose Ramirez and keep the outfielders together.

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      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        How was Austin looking? Is he getting exposed right now or are the hits just not falling?

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        • JD Sussman says:

          I hate to preempt my piece but… not good. Scouts in attendance unanimously called him a fourth outfielder. I liked his swing more than they did.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          …well, shit.

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        • Geefee says:

          Watching a couple of games: always the best way to determine a player’s future.

          Seriously though, calling any top-but-not-elite prospect in AA a fourth outfielder is a pretty safe bet, especially when they’re not hitting well. I wonder why his power has evaporated.

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  7. My fantasy team would prefer for him to develop into a front of the rotation starter overnight.

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  8. attgig says:

    I doubt he gets called up even mid june… imo, he’ll more likely be sent to Norfolk whenever they need a new starter, and Wada gets called up to Baltimore. Jurrjens, then wada, then…. at that point Bundy SHOULD be pitching again. i honestly don’t think either Bundy nor Gaussman gets called up till September.

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  9. KG says:

    Gausman, Taijuan Walker, or Archie Bradley? Bradley has shown better command and better stuff this year, it seems, while Walker is still refining his command. Gausman seems more polished than either, but is his ceiling as high? Sounds like it, given this article. Thoughts?

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    • JD Sussman says:

      My preference has always been CH > CB as the primary secondary offering, so I prefer Gausman. The velocity is similar across the board and Gausman’s slider is better than the other two’s CHs. Plus, he has the best command. But, you can’t go wrong with either of the three. Walker has the best work horse like body of the group. As I’ve said before, his legs are insanely strong. Bradley I’ve only seen on video and spoke to others about. Naturally, I’m bias towards the guys I’ve seen.

      I’ve always wanted to say primary secondary offering. Thanks for giving me that opportunity.

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  10. dbake005 says:

    The pitch at the 55 second mark in that video… yum.

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  11. Next time I have a glass of wine, I’m going to sniff ostentatiously, slurp loudly, and call it “high-waisted”.

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  12. Adam says:

    How come when I cultivated mass it didn’t come with a 95mph fastball?

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    • Wayne says:

      Because weight has zero correlation with fastball velocity. Height does, for some reason, but weight doesn’t (most hard throwers in the Majors are between 6’2 and 6’6…some are skinny, some are muscular, some are even slightly fat).

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      • Mr Anderson says:

        Kimbrel isn’t a big dude AT ALL, actually he’s pretty small but somehow he throws harder than %99 of MLB players.

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  13. Bryn says:

    Great piece, and it looks like he has great stuff. I wonder if that point in the windup where he has the ball down behind him could potentially hurt him in the future. I guess you don’t really need deception when you’re pumping 98, but baseball players are amazing, so i think there might be potential to see grips and cheat a bit.

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  14. Harold Reynolds says:

    nasty, still prefer Zimmers athleticism

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    • Wayne says:

      LOL, what on earth does athleticism have anything to do with being a successful pitcher?

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    • Wayne says:

      I mean athleticism is a blend of jumping ability, agility, and speed. None of those three things is utilized whatsoever when one delivers a pitch. Color me confused.

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  15. jrogers says:

    Hate to be that guy, but I believe “strikeouting” is one word, not two.

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  16. Matt says:

    Hey JD, I noticed in the video that Gausman’s stride is a little bit to the third base side. Do you think if he straightened it out a little bit, it would be more beneficial because he would be able to torque a little more? Perhaps it could take more strain off his arm. Or is it really a non-issue?

    Thanks

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  17. Wayne says:

    Pitching prospects over the last 10 years who had an elite fastball, an elite changeup, and elite command:

    1) Strasburg
    2) Gausman

    That’s insane. Harvey didn’t have great command in the minors and almost certainly didn’t have an elite changeup. Neither did Verlander nor Felix.

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  18. Scott says:

    Looks like he’s pitching Thursday in Toronto…

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  19. Darwin says:

    How does he compare to some of the other highly touted prospects who’ve been called up so far IE Cingrani or Fernandez?

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  20. jamesEkrueger says:

    Give me your psychic powers

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  21. Chuck says:

    “At its best, the slider has a tight 11-5 break with no visible hump.”

    That would be true…if Gausman were left-handed.

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