Orioles sign top pick, RHP Gausman of LSU
Negotiations that both sides called ''stressful'' reached an ideal ending Friday for Louisiana State right-hander Kevin Gausman and the Baltimore Orioles.
In an agreement reached just before the 5 p.m. deadline, Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft, agreed to a $4.32 million signing bonus from Baltimore. The deal was $120,000 over slot.
Gausman endured a hectic day in Baltimore, and not just because the signing deadline was drawing near.
''It's been kind of stressful, to be honest,'' Gausman said. ''I didn't sleep very much last night, and because I got my physical done today, I wasn't allowed to eat. I was a little bit grumpy the whole day, trying to get some food in my belly. But after I ate, I definitely felt a lot better.''
And, after agreeing to the deal, he couldn't have been happier.
''I was confident that we were going to get a deal done,'' Gausman said. ''I'm just so blessed to have this opportunity.''
Gausman made the announcement on Twitter, saying, ''Happy to be the newest member of the Baltimore Orioles organization!!! Living my dream!!''
Orioles director of scouting Gary Rajsich, who handled much of the negotiating for the team, said, ''We were optimistic it could get done, but there were some stressful times. You're never sure until it's done.''
Rajsich called Gausman ''the keystone'' of Baltimore's draft. The Orioles had one of nine unsigned picks from the first 10 rounds, high school pitcher Colin Poche, who selected in the fifth round with the 162nd overall choice.
A draft-eligible sophomore, Gausman was 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA for the Tigers with 128 strikeouts in 115 2-3 innings. As the deadline approached, there was speculation that he might return to LSU.
''It was a difficult decision,'' he said. ''I love LSU. I think I always will. Baton Rouge will always be a second home to me.''
Gausman, 21, believes his best pitches are the fastball and changeup.
''My changeup is probably the main reason why I got drafted by the Orioles,'' he said.
Whether he unveils those pitches in the minor leagues this year remains to be seen.
''That's a conversation that we need to have with Kevin,'' said Dan Duquette, the team's vice president of baseball operations. ''We'll have that conversation in the next couple days. Kevin's been pitching straight between some of the national competitions and college and the summer leagues for two years straight, so I think this little rest that he's had, I know it's welcomed by him. But I think it will serve him well as he gets going in pro ball.''
Gausman was drafted in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010 and turned down $1 million. He has no regrets.
''No remorse at all,'' Gausman said. ''Thinking back to when I was in high school, I really didn't know what pitching was. I just reared back and tried to throw as hard as I could. ... Going to LSU for a couple years definitely benefited me. I'm blessed I had the strength to say no to the Dodgers and be in the situation I am in now.''