There is a new buzz at Ed Smith Stadium, centered around Baseball America’s number 26th ranked prospect and 2012 Orioles first round pick Kevin Gausman. In his first appearance down in Sarasota, he had everybody’s attention as he is lite up the radar gun. ’Gas’man touched 98 mph twice in 33 pitches, while hovering at 96-97 mph through out his debut.
His electric arm took to the Twitter universe and now everyone around the league is talking about fire-hurler down in Sarasota, FL. Gausman even caught the attention of Tim Kurkjian, “There is a lot of talk in Orioles camp about Kevin Gausman. He throws an “easy 97.” He’ll help this team at some point this year.”
The problem with this excitement is that it has started a rumor that Kevin might be further ahead in his development than Bundy, and people are starting to believe Gausman might break camp as the Orioles 5th starter. As much as I would love to see one of our young guns toeing the rubber every 5th day, it wouldn’t be to smart for the Orioles organization.
Kevin has only logged 15 innings in the minor leagues, reaching as high as Single-A Frederick by the end of last year. Granted he did throw for over 100 innings for LSU, but he has only a limited time at the pro level. The problem with bringing up Gausman at the end of camp is not as much as he might not be ready, or rushing him through the system; because if the O’s did call upon him it is because Buck and Dan believe he is ready. The problem would be the unnecessary start on Gausman’s arbitration clock.
Arbitration is a very confusing system for many people so let me try to explain the benefit of waiting to call up Gausman and Bundy as well. Calling up Gausman at the end of camp would start his time of service in the MLB. Players salaries are based on the number of years they have played at the major league level. Players who are below 3 years of service essentially make minimum wage, giving teams their high prospects for cheap. After 3 years, players earn a pay raise based on the average salary of players at their position and their tenure of service. Once a player reaches 6 years, they are eligible for free agency and that is something all organizations want to delay as long as possible.
So by calling up Gausman now, the Orioles would start his arbitration clock and lose one year of his service when he may not actually be needed. The Orioles have plenty of pitching depth, and would do just fine covering the 5th spot of the rotation (see my article about the 5th starter). Right now the Orioles rotation is far from set, but there are plenty of options not including the name Bundy or Gausman that will give the club a real opportunity to compete.
There is good news for everyone at home reading this article and saying that they don’t care about arbitration; they just want to see are top two prospects throwing heat at the OPACY, you won’t have to wait too long. By waiting until late April for Gausman, the Orioles will keep control over his contract until 2019. For Bundy, the Birds would have to wait until early May due to the fact he has already spent time with O’s last year.
But for Duquette and the rest of the Orioles organization, they would much rather wait a little bit longer to avoid the two prospects becoming “Super Two’s”. Skipping the mumbo jumbo of the new CBA agreement it essentially means that at 2 years of service they are eligible for a pay raise, rather than at 3 years.
This is all technical stuff that most Orioles fans would brush aside and ignore, but I’d rather hold onto our hurlers for as long as possible. If that means we will have to wait till summer than so be it. Right now I believe that the Orioles starting rotation is stronger than ever, and we can give our boys some time down in Bowie to get stronger and even better. Save the cavalry until we come knocking down the AL East Champion door.