Kevin Gausman Rumors
At 42-31, the Orioles have the second-best record in the American League. That impressive win total comes despite the fact that their starting pitchers, as a whole, have the fourth-worst ERA in the Majors at 4.76. Given that number, it's no surprise to see MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli write that the Orioles will be in the market for starting pitching help in her latest Orioles Inbox. According to Ghiroli, names like Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Jason Vargas and Joe Saunders are on the team's radar. She adds that Mike Pelfrey's name has also surfaced.
No one from that group stands out as an ace-caliber pitcher, which meshes with Ghiroli's statement that the Orioles "would like to add at least one more pitcher to help eat innings and keep the bullpen fresh." That trade could come prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, or, if asking prices are high, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette could make a waiver trade in August as he did in 2012 when he acquired Saunders from the Diamondbacks for Matt Lindstrom.
Asked about the Orioles seeking a potential upgrade at second base via the trade market, Ghiroli said that the team isn't looking for second base upgrades. Baltimore is satisfied with the defense of Ryan Flaherty, and Brian Roberts is nearing a rehab assignment. According to Ghiroli, the Orioles would prefer to "[funnel] any and all resources and trade chips into helping out the rotation."
Not surprisingly, the Orioles aren't willing to discuss Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in trades, which is likely the reason for focusing on second- and third-tier trade targets. Of the five names mentioned, Norris figures to have the highest asking price. Only he is controlled beyond 2013; each of the other four can be free agents at season's end.
Earlier this season the O's were said to be looking for a top-of-the-rotation starter, but they seem to have shifted that focus. Given their unwillingness to part with Gausman or Bundy, it stands to reason that acquiring an ace-caliber arm would've been an unrealistic goal.
The 2013 Major League Baseball amateur draft will begin later today and the Houston Astros possess the first overall pick for the second year in a row. The draft acts as a cost-effective tool for clubs looking to stockpile young talent. Despite the thousands of hours logged by each club's scouting department while trying to determine the best amateur talents available, the draft remains a bit of a crapshoot and will be full of hits and misses -- although it may be years before most teams' outcomes are fully known.
Five players from the 2012 draft -- Kevin Gausman (fourth overall, Orioles), Michael Wacha (19th overall, Cardinals), Paco Rodriguez (second round, Dodgers), Alex Wood (second round, Braves) and Michael Roth (ninth round, Angels) -- have already made their debuts in The Show. Many others have seen their prospect values soar, while a select few have already taken steps backward. It's generally thought that the best talents of any given draft will be found in the first five to 10 picks but success is never a guarantee. Let's have a look at the early results from the first 10 picks of the 2012 draft and see if that belief has held true.
1. Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (Puerto Rico HS): It's been reported that Houston's front office went down to the wire before finally settling on Correa as the first overall pick. While speaking with "someone in the know" during the offseason, I was told that one of the things that made the young Puerto Rican attractive -- other than his obvious raw talents -- was that he will likely be ready to be an impact talent at the big league level when the rebuilding Astros are ready to legitimately compete in the American League West. Someone like Gausman, Mark Appel, or Mike Zunino are more likely to see their best seasons occur while the club is still finding its competitive footing. Still just 18, Correa has held his own in A-ball while showing the ability to hit for a solid average, an impressive understanding of the strike zone and good power.
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (Georgia HS): Buxton, a toolsy Georgia native, has made Correa's 2013 numbers look pedestrian. The Twins prospect is currently hitting .348 with a 1.023 OPS and 26 stolen bases in 53 games. At just 19 years of age, the gifted centerfielder looks too advanced for Low-A ball. Robert Emrich of MiLB.com wrote a piece on Buxton last night after the prospect went 5-for-6 with two triples.
3. Mike Zunino, C, Mariners (University of Florida): Seattle fans were eager to see the catcher make the big league club out of Spring Training but the organization wisely played it safe and assigned him to Triple-A. After a quick start to the 2013 season, holes in Zunino's game were exposed and his batting average plummeted while his strikeout rate rose. Currently hitting just .228, he's still showing impressive power with 11 home runs in 43 games.
4. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Orioles (LSU): As mentioned above in the intro, Gausman has already reached the Majors -- no doubt a welcome sight for the O's after former top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy succumbed to an elbow injury. Gausman struck out 49 batters with just five walks in eight Double-A starts, though his Major League results have thus far been inconsistent (a 7.20 ERA through three starts).
5. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals (University of San Francisco): Considered almost on par with Gausman from a talent perspective prior to the draft, Zimmer is currently stuck in High-A ball. He's flashed a heavy, powerful fastball and has struck out 65 batters in 52 innings of work but he's struggled with his command, resulting in seven home runs allowed and a 5.54 ERA.
6. Albert Almora, OF, Cubs (Florida HS): Considered a gifted fielder, it was said that Almora's defensive work in center field was almost MLB caliber at the time of the draft. The Florida native got a late start to the 2013 season thanks to a broken hamate bone but he's been on fire since being activated. He's hitting .429 with just six strikeouts in 12 games.
7. Max Fried, LHP, Padres (California HS): Fried got off to a quick start to the year and has shown glimpses of his immense talent but he's also displayed the need for improvements in a number of areas. He's allowed 13 runs in his last 13 1/3 innings of work. On the year, he's issued 22 walks in 44 innings and has struggled against right-handed hitters ( RHHs at .265 vs. LHHs batting .149).
8. Mark Appel, RHP, Pirates (Stanford): Appel was the lone 2012 first-rounder that did not come to terms with the club that selected him. He returned to Stanford for his senior year of college and has improved his draft stock; he's expected to be a top-three pick, going to either the Astros, Cubs or Rockies. That should land him a larger signing bonus than he would have been eligible for with the Pirates in 2012. Had Appel signed with Pittsburgh, he would have given the organization quite an impressive future rotation along with Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. Tim Keown of ESPN.com recently wrote about Appel's decision to return to college and re-enter the draft in 2013.
9. Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (Oklahoma State): Like Almora, Heaney was slowed by injury and did not make his first start of the year until late May. In total, he's made three starts and has an ERA below 2.00 with 18 strikeouts in just 12 1/3 innings. He joins Justin Nicolino, who was acquired from the Blue Jays in the offseason, as a pair of impressive left-handed pitching prospects that look close to ready for the challenge of Double-A.
10. David Dahl, OF, Rockies (Alabama HS): Dahl made a very positive impression during his 67-game pro debut in 2012 and, during the offseason, was touted as one of the steals of the draft as the 10th overall selection. However, some questionable decision making (which reportedly involved missing a flight) got him shipped out to extended Spring Training in April, despite originally earning a roster spot on the Low-A club to begin the season. Dahl has since regained his Low-A spot and produced solid-but-unspectacular results in his first 10 games; he was recently placed on the minor league disabled list.
Supplemental Round Picks of Note
The first round of the MLB amateur draft is not the only place to find high-ceiling talent. Quality prospects can be found littered throughout the 40 rounds. Below are some of the players that were taken in the supplemental first round -- picks mainly given as compensation for the loss of key free agents from the previous offseason. A number of the players selected in that round have looked impressive early in their careers and have performed well enough to suggest they should have been true first-round selections.
Jose Berrios, RHP, Twins: Berrios brings a much-needed power arm to the Twins organization. The Puerto Rico native has struck out 44 batters in 39 innings despite being one of the youngest pitchers in the Low-A Midwest League; Berrios just recently turned 19 years old.
Zach Eflin, RHP, Padres: Like his fellow Padres prospect Max Fried, Eflin was a promising prep arm acquired in the 2012 draft. Unlike his southpaw teammate, though, the right-hander has gotten stronger as the year has progressed and has been a little more consistent.
Daniel Robertson, SS, Athletics: Originally expected to move from shortstop to third base as a pro, Robertson's steady defensive play has convinced the organization to give him a longer look at his natural position. Despite missing much of the first month of the year while rehabbing an injury, the young hitter has shown flashes of above-average potential at the plate.
Kevin Plawecki, C, Mets: High draft picks from the college ranks typically skip over Low-A ball and begin their careers in High-A ball, but the Mets organization has been cautious with Plawecki -- possibly to give him an opportunity to polish his defense. The 22-year-old prospect is showing that his bat is more than ready for a promotion with a .341 batting average and 30 extra base hits. MLB.com's Teddy Cahill recently wrote a feature on Plawecki.
Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers: After a much-hyped start to his pro career that saw him hit 22 home runs in his first 59 games, the left-handed hitter has come crashing back down to earth. He's slugged another 14 dingers this year but he's also struck out 89 times in 55 games, causing his batting average to dip to .210. He has a lot of adjustments to make to avoid becoming the next Russell Branyan.
Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Astros: McCullers showed the raw potential to be a first round draft pick in the 2012 draft but questions about his delivery and potential move to the bullpen caused him to slip into the supplemental round. The young pitcher, though, has temporarily quieted his critics and overpowered the Midwest League with a 1.70 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings.
Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies: As with McCullers, Butler was thought to be potentially headed for a pro career out of the bullpen. He's been exceptional as a starter, although the college product did begin the year in Low-A ball where he should have dominated the less-experienced competition. He was recently promoted to High-A ball and has a 3.71 ERA in his first three starts. David Lee of the Augusta Chronicle wrote about Butler's promotion.
Earlier today, we learned that the Red Sox and Jacoby Ellsbury have yet to discuss a new deal this season. The outfielder can land a monster deal this winter if he recaptures his 2011 form, but so far he's hitting just .242/.307/.335 in 2013. Here's more on Ellsbury and the latest out of the American League East..
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com tweets that Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette weighed considerations beyond service time when promoting top prospect Kevin Gausman. "It shows a commitment to the club," said Duquette. "I think it tells the team we want to win." While the team will still control Gausman through 2019, the right-hander can now potentially gain Super Two status and enter arbitration a year earlier than if the club had waited until mid-June.
- In an interview with WEEI's Mut & Merloni, ESPN's Buster Olney described the circumstances of a possible Jacoby Ellsbury trade this summer, writes Kevin Dillon of WEEI.com. Olney points out that even if Ellsbury falls out of favor with the Red Sox, they would still have to find a contender in need of a center fielder to swing a deal.
- Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona stopped by WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show and discussed the fallout from his book released earlier this year, Dillon writes. The current Indians skipper says that he hasn't gotten the chance to talk with Red Sox owners since releasing the book in which he claimed that they cared more about making money than baseball.
Max Fogle contributed to this post.
The Orioles are calling up right-hander Kevin Gausman, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Gausman will make his big league debut on Thursday night, taking the mound against the Blue Jays.
Gausman ranked No. 26 on both Baseball America's and Keith Law's prospect rankings for ESPN, while MLB.com listed him ten spots lower at No. 36. Prior to the season, BA wrote that Gausman's "aptitude and intelligence help set him apart." The youngster, who is second only to Dylan Bundy in Baltimore's system, is praised by BA for his premium fastball and changeup.
If he sticks on the O's roster, Gausman could potentially gain Super Two status and trigger arbitration a year early. Had the the Orioles waited until mid-June or later to promote the pitcher, they could have avoided the possibility of him becoming a Super Two player after the 2015 season. For now, the 22-year-old is slated to be under team control through 2019.
The Orioles are likely to seek a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher but are completely unwilling to include top prospects Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in a package, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Orioles starters currently rank 23rd in ERA, and they recently lost Wei-Yin Chen to the disabled list with an oblique strain. There's no exact timetable no Chen, though Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun speculated today that he could be sidelined for as long as six weeks.
The Orioles were very interested in R.A. Dickey this offseason, according to Heyman, but even with the Blue Jays' disastrous start there's no guarantee that he would be available. Dickey can be controlled through the 2016 season, so the Blue Jays can hang onto him even if they don't contend this year. Baltimore has "little, if any" interest in mending Cubs ace Matt Garza, Heyman adds.
The Orioles went out and got some pitching help last summer by adding Joe Saunders in an August trade, but it sounds like GM Dan Duquette and his staff are eyeing bigger targets this time around. Heyman notes that before pursuing second tier options again (e.g. Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez and Jason Vargas), the team is likely to exhaust its internal options.
I imagine that the Orioles will have an incredibly difficult time putting together a package for an ace-caliber pitcher without Gausman and Bundy, as the rest of their farm system lacks elite talent. Neither Baseball America or MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo listed an Orioles prospect besides those two in their respective Top 100 lists this offseason. ESPN's Keith Law (Insider required) ranked infielder Jonathan Schoop 50th overall (noting that he prefers him at third base) and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez 100th, but neither is the type of impact talent typically required to land a front-line starter.
Justin Verlander repeated today that he wants to stay with the Tigers beyond 2014, when his current contract expires. “I love Detroit,” he said, according to John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. “I feel like I’m a kindred part of that town. I grew up in front of these fans and earned my way into their hearts.” Verlander said he's not yet sure whether he and his representatives would be willing to negotiate during the season. Here are some more links from around MLB...
- Grantland's Jonah Keri interviewed Orioles GM Dan Duquette about the success of his team in 2012 and Duquette's outlook on 2013. Duquette feels that both Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will be ready to make significant impacts on the club at some point in 2013.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark presents an in-depth look at the top stories to watch in each league during Spring Training this year. Stark's piece also includes breakdowns of the best and worst free agent signings, trades and more, according to a group of 16 baseball scouts and executives.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs lists the ten worst moves of the offseason with the caveat that "the worst moves aren’t as bad as bad as they used to be." The Royals make three appearances on the list after trading Wil Myers to obtain James Shields, acquiring Ervin Santana and signing Jeremy Guthrie for three years.
- Meanwhile, in another piece for Grantland, Keri examines the worst contracts in MLB starting with Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees and Carl Crawford of the Dodgers.
- Agents at Hendricks Sports have filed an MLBPA grievance against three MLB agents who left the firm for Excel Sports Management and took players with them, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports (on Twitter). Be sure to use MLBTR’s Agency Database for your agency-related inquiries.
4:22pm: The sides agreed to a $4.32MM bonus, ESPN.com's Keith Law tweets. The Orioles have announced their agreement with Gausman.
4:10pm: The Orioles have agreed to sign first round selection Kevin Gausman, the pitcher reports (on Twitter). MLB recommended a bonus of $4.2MM for the fourth overall pick and Gausman's bonus is expected to fall in that range, Jon Paul Morosi reported today.
Gausman has two premium pitches including a fastball that sits 94-96 mph and a plus change-up, according to Baseball America. The Louisiana State right-hander also throws a curve and a slider.
Teams have until 4pm CDT to sign their picks from this year's Rule 4 draft, so teams and advisors are in for a busy afternoon. We'll track the draft-related news here:
- Third round selection Avery Romero signed with the Marlins for $700K, Conor Glassey of Baseball America tweets.
- The Pirates signed 17th rounder Hayden Hurst for $400K, Callis tweets. Hurst appears to have obtained the second-biggest deal for players selected after the tenth round.
- The Athletics signed second round selection Nolan Sanburn for $710K, Jim Callis of Baseball America tweets.
- Top Orioles pick Kevin Gausman is in Baltimore and a press conference will be held at 5pm CDT if the sides agree by today's 4pm CDT deadline, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- The Cubs announced that they signed second round selection Duane Underwood. The high school right-hander doesn't turn 18 until next week. The Cubs reportedly agreed to a $1.05MM deal with Underwood.
- The Indians signed eighth round selection Caleb Hamrick, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (on Twitter). The high school right-hander obtained a $180K bonus.
- You can track every unsigned selection at Baseball America. The list includes the four remaining unsigned first rounders: fourth overall selection Gausman (likely to sign with Orioles), eighth overall selection Mark Appel (Pirates), 16th overall selection Lucas Giolito (Nationals) and 25th overall selection Richie Shaffer (nearing deal with Rays).
- The Orioles' expected agreement with Gausman will be worth "around" $4.2MM, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports.
- It's unlikely the Pirates will sign Appel, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Heyman suggests there's a possibility of intervention from MLB officials.
- The Marlins agreed to sign first round selection Andrew Heaney, in case you missed it.
The Orioles have made "significant progress" in negotiations with first-round draft pick Kevin Gausman and a "deal seems likely" before tomorrow's signing deadline, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
It was just three days ago that Gausman seemed to be leaning towards pitching for LSU, though the O's increased their contract offer in the interim. Baltimore's previous offer that was "close" to the $4.2MM recommended slot bonus for the fourth overall pick, while Gausman and his reprentatives were known to be looking for a bonus of slightly beyond $4.2MM. The two sides have until 4 PM CST on Friday to complete an agreement.
We're less than a day away from the draft signing deadline, as teams have until 4 PM CST on Friday to sign their picks. Here's the latest on the status of some high-round picks who have yet to agree to terms, plus some signings...
- The Indians have signed fourth-round pick D'vone McClure, reports Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter). McClure signed for a $750K bonus, more than double the recommended slot price of $314.7K.
- The Nationals can pay Lucas Giolito just under $2.813MM without going over the draft spending cap, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, citing calculations from Baseball America. MLB's recommended slot price for the 16th overall pick is $2.125MM. Kilgore outlines the situation surrounding Giolito, who the Nats say they will not sign to a contract that puts them over the spending cap and causes the team to incur a fine.
- "We are making progress. We’re waiting to hear their next proposal," Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) about the club's negotiations with first-rounder Kevin Gausman. The fourth overall pick has a slot price of $4.2MM, which Gausman and his representatives are looking to "slightly" exceed, tweets Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com.
- The Mets are at a "standstill" with second-round pick Teddy Stankiewicz, reports Jim Callis of Baseball America (via Twitter). Callis hears that Stankiewicz is willing to sign for the recommended slot price for the 75th overall pick ($680.4K) but the Mets haven't offered that large of a bonus.
- The Giants have signed third-rounder Mac Williamson, tweets Baseball America's Nathan Robe. Williamson will receive a $390K bonus, which is under the $412.3K recommended price for the 115th overall pick.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo outlines the rules of the newly-instituted Competitive Balance Lottery, which takes place on July 18 and will distribute six total bonus picks among low-revenue and small-market teams for the 2013 amateur draft.