45 Prospects in 45 Days: Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman
Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.
For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.
Ah, Kevin Gausman. The flame throwing, powdered donut eating Baltimore Oriole. I recently profiled Gausman in detail at Beyond the BoxScore. I didn’t write much about Gausman’s actual profile or projectability, though.
Gausman is physically imposing on the mound. Coming in at a solid 6’3” and ~200 pounds, he has the look of an ace. His fastball buries downward on its plane towards the zone and his tremendous athleticism allows him to create tremendous momentum and torque during his delivery, according to mechanics guru Doug Thorburn.
Gausman has easy velocity, a killer change/splitter, and a slider that looks to be on its way to becoming an adequate weapon with which to combat major league hitters. Throw in the fact that he’s only 23 and already received his first taste of the major leagues, and it’s a sexy combination.
Gausman has had admirers in scouting circles since his name was called on draft day. And because most talent evaluators are reasonable, they’re not jumping ship after Gaysman’s bumpy debut.
In Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 prospects, Gausman came in at 10. Keith Law pegged him at 23. Each of their complete scouting reports can be found at the links above, but I wanted to highlight a key portion of Mr. Parks’ write-up:
Gausman is a beast, with a near elite fastball, a plus-plus changeup, and the makings of a plus slider. If the command stays sharp and the slider takes a step forward (in confidence and consistency), Gausman has all the necessary ingredients to be a frontline starter. The stuff can be a little visible, and he’s hittable when he throws too many strikes and not enough good strikes (control vs. command), but the floor is obnoxiously high, and the ceiling suggests he could be one of the better arms in baseball very soon.
Quite the gushing review. Law also noted the fact that Gausman’s slider improved throughout the season, despite the fact that Gausman struggled to stay consistent with it.
Always remember that it is nearly impossible to scout a stat line. When you’re in doubt, or need to be talked off of a ledge, remember that scouting opinions matter more than a small sample size.
Minor League Production
Saying Gausman torched the minors is an understatement. After only throwing 15 innings immediately after being drafted, Gausman stifled AA batters and was eventually called up in May. After struggling he was sent down to AAA before being recalled and yo-yoed around a tad. His track record, albeit short, is very impressive.
The three projection systems Fangraphs’ makes available all like Gausman to be roughly a league average starter in 2014, which considering the fact that he’s 23 is pretty good – in real life. For fantasy purposes, he’d have to outperform those projections to have value in most leagues.
I believe Gausman has both the ability and maturity to outperform his projections, especially ZiPS. Gausman has talent that is uncoachable. He has all the makings of a frontline starter, it just may take a little while to arrive at his ultimate destination.
In 2014, his value is infinitely higher in long-term leagues (keeper or dynasty), but don’t sleep on him in other setups. His ability to miss bats at an above average rate makes him a nice plug-in-play type starting pitcher. His value could skyrocket, though, if he’s able to harness in his command a little more and become more consistent with his slider. Keep an eye on him, because his upside is tremendous, even if we might not see it all quite yet.
Unfortunately, after the first draft of this piece was written, the Orioles signed Ubaldo Jimenez. That signing makes Gausman’s immediate future even murkier unless someone in the rotation is moved into the bullpen – cough Bud Norris cough. If Gausman starts the season in AAA he should force his way up before long, and I’d bet on it being in a starter’s role, given his upside and Baltimore’s need for impact wherever they can get it.
Last but not least, a gif, courtesy of Paul Sporer’s SP Guide, which you can purchase here.
Marinate on those fantastic pitches until next time. As always, if you have some extra coin lying around and want to subscribe to the Front Office portion of the site, you can do that here. A membership comes with a laundry list of perks, so go for it.