J.P. Arencibia Welcomes Kevin Gausman to the Big Leagues

Last night, highly touted pitching prospect Kevin Gausman made his major league debut against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Gausman was the Orioles first round selection in the 2012 draft (4th overall) and was the Orioles’ #2 prospect behind Dylan Bundy, according to basically every prospect ranking list heading into the season (Keith Law of ESPN had Gausman as the #26 best prospect overall, while Baseball Prospectus had him at #13).  He mainly throws a fastball and change-up, which most scouts regard as plus pitches, as well as a average slider that can also flash plus at times.  He also commands his pitches well, thanks to an easy delivery and repeatable mechanics.  Prior to being called up to the big club, Gausman spent the first part of the season pitching for AA Bowie, posting excellent numbers (3.11 ERA and 2.44 FIP), while striking out more than 25% and walking only 2.6% of batters faced.

Despite taking the loss last night, Gausman’s stuff looked as good as advertised.  He mostly threw his 4-seam fastball (about 70% of his pitches), AVERAGING a velocity of 97.26 mph, and topping out at 99.45 mph (according to pitch f/x).  While a well-located fastball that averages more than 97 mph is impressive, his change-up was easily the most impressive pitch of the night.  Gausman’s change-up not only looked like a fastball coming out of his hand, he threw it (on average) 13 mph slower, while having excellent late fading action.  If you didn’t get a chance to see him throw that pitch last night, click HERE to look at Carson Cistulli’s post on Fangraphs for footage of that pitch.  When you’re done, don’t try and convince me that Gausman’s change-up isn’t beautiful…because you can’t.

Obviously, Gausman’s night wasn’t all positive since he gave up 4 runs in 5 innings, and there were times during his outing where he seemed to lose his command.  Blue Jay’s catcher J.P. Arencibia did a particularly good job of giving Gausman a taste of what to expect at baseball’s highest level, going 2 for 3 with a double and a home run (driving in 3 of the 4 runs Gausman gave up).  Below shows the location of the pitches Arencibia hit and the description of those pitches (from the catcher’s perspective).

Gausman vs Arencibia

Gausman vs Arencibia Table

If Gausman didn’t know that major league hitters can do some damage on a good pitch, he does now.  He barely got away with a pitch right down the middle to Arencibia (the ball was caught on the warning track), but the two pitches Arencibia hit for extra bases were not necessarily bad pitches.  I’m sure that many hitters in AA could not do much with a 97 mph fastball off the inside part of the plate, let alone hit it for a home run.  In fact, many major league hitters may struggle with that pitch, and Gausman would do well to keep challenging them with hard stuff on the hands.  Although, as the chart below shows, he may want to throw his fastballs to the upper/outer part of the plate next time he faces Arencibia, as the Blue Jay’s catcher tends to do some considerable damage on fastballs down and on the inside part of the plate.

Arencibia

Gausman’s major league debut was not great, but it was not terrible either.  With his combination of pure stuff and youth, we’re bound to see some inconsistency this year when he takes the mound (provided he stays in the major leagues).  And I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to beig there for every start, to see just how good he can be.

One Response to “J.P. Arencibia Welcomes Kevin Gausman to the Big Leagues”

  1. […] minor league innings) and his stuff looks filthy, even if his results don’t quite match up yet (we took a look at his debut a week ago or so).  He was the Orioles #2 ranked prospect in 2013 behind Dylan Bundy and was ranked #13 overall by […]

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