Archive for Kevin Gausman

Minor League Recap: March 31-April 6

Posted in Minor Leagues, Offense, Pitching, Prospects with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

With the new season back in full swing, it’s time for the return of the weekly installment of the Minor League Recap, which looks at the performances of Baltimore’s AAA (Norfolk Tides), AA (Bowie Baysox), and High-A (Frederick Keys) minor league affiliates. Since this was an idea that came to me with 2 weeks remaining in the 2013 minor league season, there have only been 2 previous installments. However, I’m planning on making it a weekly post in 2014. This first week is a light one, with each of the team’s playing only 4 games.  If you remember back to when I began doing these posts last season, the following is based on a player’s on-field performance for the current week only, and is not to be considered a list of prospects or future major league contributors.

Weekly Summary

Norfolk (AAA): 1-4 (W-L), 7 RS, 10 RA

Bowie (AA): 4-0, 35 RS, 14 RA

Frederick (High-A): 2-2, 20 RS, 14 RA

The Good:

Hitters

Norfolk (AAA): 2B Jemile Weeks – 6/12 (H/AB), 2 3B’s, 2 BB’s, 2 SO’s

Weeks was in the mix to make the opening day roster as the starting second baseman or the backup middle infielder.  He landed in Norfolk instead, despite the extra roster spot in Baltimore due to Manny Machado’s knee rehab placing him on the DL to start the season.  Weeks is off to a hot start in the first few games, even getting a start in CF.  He has a good chance to be the first player called up if J.J. Hardy hits the DL or Ryan Flaherty continues to struggle. Continue reading

Projecting the 2014 Orioles: Pitching

Posted in Offseason, Pitching, Projections with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

Last week we looked at what the Zips projection system over at Fangraphs thought the Baltimore Orioles position players were capable of in the 2014 season.  Comparing those projections to the wins (fWAR) the team received at each of the offensive positions in 2013 resulted in the 2014 Baltimore offense to be worth 4.7 wins worse than the previous year’s team.  Today we’ll take a look at the pitching staff and see if we can bring that number back into the positive.

Starting Pitcher

2014 Zips Projection

2014 Zips Projection

In 2013, Baltimore starting pitchers as a whole were one of the weakest parts of the roster.  The starters combined for only 7.4 fWAR, which placed them 24th among all major league starting rotations.  Much of that production came from Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, and Miguel GonzalezScott Feldman and Bud Norris also added about 1 win each in a little less than half a seasons worth of work for the Orioles.  Other than that, 9 other pitchers produced anywhere in between 0.5 fWAR (Jason Hammel) and -0.8 fWAR (Freddy Garcia).  I looked at how the starting rotation fared in depth at ESPN Sweetspot Network Orioles blog Camden Depot earlier in the offseason, so if you would like a more detailed analysis, you can find it here. Continue reading

Some Thoughts on Ubaldo Jimenez

Posted in Free Agency, Offseason, Pitching with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2014 by oriolesprovingground

As of Wednesday February 19, Ubaldo Jimenez officially became a member of the Baltimore Orioles.  The Orioles signed him to a 4-year, $50 million contract.  While he’s expected to perform near the top of the rotation for the duration of the contract, he’s already completed his toughest task, which was passing Baltimore’s physical exam*.  The details of the contract aren’t that important (they can be found here), but at an average annual value of $12.5 million, at first glance this looks like a decent deal for the Orioles, especially if you’re last memory of Jimenez is the unhittable version of him from the 2013 All-Star break to the end of the season.

*I know the whole “passing a Baltimore Orioles physical” has been overdone this offseason, but I felt that it was my duty to make sure I had at least one joke in here about it.  Although any joke probably wouldn’t top this tweet from former Orioles’ pitcher Jeremy Guthrie.

If you’ve been reading the different opinions about the Jimenez signing, you see a lot of the emphasis on how the signing affects the team’s playoff chances in 2014.  This is important to talk about for a couple of reasons.  One is that since Jimenez will be 30 years old during the 2014 season, there is a decent chance that the first year of his contract will be his best. Second, with all the recent talk of Baltimore’s current window of contention potentially closing in the next year or two (Hardy and Markakis are free agents after 2014, while Wieters and Davis will be free agents after 2015), it appears that productive seasons from Jimenez will be more valuable to the team’s success in his first 2 years than his last 2 years.  There may be a bit of truth to both of these points, but I don’t necessarily want to focus only on 2014 in this post. Continue reading

Making the Orioles a Champion in 2014: Starting Pitchers – Part 2

Posted in Offseason, Pitching with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

Today, over at ESPN Sweetspot Network Orioles blog, Camden Depot, I have part 2 of the offseason starting pitching outlook for the Baltimore Orioles in our continuing “Making the Orioles a Champion in 2014” series.  Since I looked at how the Orioles starters performed in 2013 in Part 1, I’ll be looking at what they can do to improve their rotation for the 2014 season.  We’re getting close to wrapping up this offseason outlook for the Orioles, so check back soon for links to every position.

Direct Link to Article –> Making the Orioles a Champion in 2014: Starting Pitchers-Part 2

Making the Orioles a Champion in 2014: Starting Pitchers – Part 1

Posted in Offseason, Pitching with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

As I mentioned in last week’s post, over at ESPN Sweetspot Network affiliated Orioles blog, Camden Depot, the writers are undertaking a position by position review of the Orioles 2013 season, followed by what we think the Orioles should do in the offseason to make them World Series champions in 2014.  I was put in charge of looking at the team’s starting pitching as well as the shortstop position.  First up (for me) are the Starting Pitchers, Part 1.  In Part 1, I review the 2013 season, as it pertains to Baltimore’s starting staff, and it’s not too pretty.

Direct Link to Article –> Making the Orioles a Champion in 2014: Starting Pitchers – Part 1

Minor League Recap: August 19-25

Posted in Minor Leagues, Offense, Pitching, Prospects with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

Recently, as I was thinking of potential topics to write about, it occurred to me that Orioles Proving Ground has not dealt much with the minor league system of the Baltimore Orioles.  This is somewhat strange considering that the name of the blog was partially meant to invoke images of players in the minors proving their worth and graduating to the major leagues.  That has not really happened to date, other than maybe a couple of posts.  In order to change this, I thought we would start a weekly feature that looks at the best and worst individual performances of Baltimore’s top three minor league affiliates (AAA, AA, and Hi-A).  Conveniently, the minor league season will be coming to a close in the next week, so there will only be two installments of this series in 2013, after which it will hopefully pick up again during the 2014 season.  For the most part this is just a recap, but some analysis may be given where appropriate.

Just a note.  As I do not have much scouting experience and have not attended many minor league games this summer, these posts will look at on field performance only and are not meant to be used as scouting reports.

Continue reading

Orioles Draft Retrospective: 2012 and Conclusions

Posted in Draft, Prospects, Rule 4 with tags , on June 6, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

2012

Using advanced mathematics, I’ve determined that the 2012 draft happened only one year ago, and similar to the 2011 draft, it is way too soon to grade the Orioles on it.  And you may already know this, but the Orioles used their first round pick on…

1-4 – Kevin Gausman (RHP) from Louisiana State University

So far this looks like it was an excellent pick by the Orioles.  Gausman has already made his major league debut (after only 61.1 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 Baseball Prospectus.  Scouts project him to be a #2 starter, maybe even a #1a starter behind Bundy.

Other Baltimore picks in the 2012 draft that show up in Baseball Prospectus’ top 10 list include #8 RHP Branden Kline (selected in 2nd round), #9 SS Adrian Marin (selected in 3rd round), and #10 LHP Josh Hader (selected in 19th round).  Again, these players are not close to helping the big league club, so there is plenty of time for them to improve, fail, or be passed on the list by other members of the draft class.

There are a lot of interesting prospects who were taken after Gausman, and it’s too soon to say if this was the absolute best pick.  However, it’s hard to argue with it, when you consider Gausman’s projected ceiling along with the fact that he was the first player drafted in the first round to reach the big leagues.

Conclusion

Here is the total list of players from the 2000-2012 drafts who have contributed positive WAR (according to Fangraphs) on Baltimore’s major league club.

Orioles Draft Picks

The WAR in the table only includes players who contributed a positive WAR.  Draftees producing a negative WAR for the Orioles were not included (for example, Xavier Avery contributed -0.2 WAR last year), so the cumulative WAR the Orioles received from their draft picks since 2000 is going to be lower than 63.8.  I have not looked at the wins above replacement accumulated by other teams from the draft during the same period, but 63.8 seems really low and I’d be shocked if it didn’t rank towards the bottom of the league.  Some points of observation before we wrap this up.

  1. Selecting the right player in the MLB Rule 4 draft is a very difficult job
  2. Having said that, with the exception of Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters, the Orioles chose poorly, especially with regards to their first round selections from 2000-2009
  3. All 13 first round picks were in the top 15, 11 were in the top 10, and 7 were in the top 5.  To get such little production out of so many high draft picks is almost impressive (like when your dog eats a whole wheel of cheese and poops in the fridge, you don’t even get mad, because it’s amazing).  It reminds me of a physics test I took in high school where I got all 10 True/False questions wrong.  Maybe both of us would have been better off just guessing.
  4. Drafting well is not the only way to build a winning team.  Trades, free agency, international free agents, waiver claims, Rule 5 Draft picks, etc. also need to be successful.  However, it is an important aspect to building a winning team both directly and indirectly (as draft picks can be used to bring major league talent through trades), and looking at that list does a lot to explain the absence of winning baseball in Baltimore between 1997 and 2012.
  5. Two things are needed to help make a draft pick successful: good scouting to ensure that the right pick is made and good player development to make sure that pick develops into a quality major leaguer.  It is near impossible to differentiate who is responsible for a prospect’s success or failure, and many times both departments deserve credit/blame.
  6. Sometimes stuff happens to these prospects and there is no one to blame but bad luck.  Players get hurt, don’t progress, or sometimes weren’t that good in the first place.

This whole exercise was informative and kind of depressing, but let’s end on a positive note.  In the last three years, the Orioles appear to have used their first round picks on potential stars who could help the team for years to come.  Additionally, Baltimore’s first pick in the 2013 draft is all the way back at #22, the latest they’ve picked since 1998, which is good news, since it means that they won a lot of games the previous year.

Until next time, happy draft watching!

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

Posted in Pitching, Prospects with tags , on May 25, 2013 by oriolesprovingground

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.