Gausman inks a deal with the O's

Former LSU ace's negotiations with Baltimore go down to the wire before he agrees to terms and launches his pro career.

BALTIMORE –Negotiations that both sides called "stressful" reached an ideal ending Friday for LSU's Kevin Gausman and the Baltimore Orioles.

In an agreement reached just before the 4 p.m. deadline (a report on indicated a final agreement was reached with only 10 seconds to spare) Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft, agreed to a $4.32 million signing bonus from Baltimore, $120,000 over slot.

Gausman endured a hectic day in Baltimore, and not just because the signing deadline was drawing near.

"It's been kind of stressful, to be honest," Gausman said. "I didn't sleep very much (Thursday) night, and because I got my physical done (Friday), I wasn't allowed to eat. I was a little bit grumpy the whole day, trying to get some food in my belly. But after I ate, I definitely felt a lot better."

After agreeing to the deal, he couldn't have been happier.

"I was confident that we were going to get a deal done," Gausman said. "I'm just so blessed to have this opportunity."

Gausman made the announcement on Twitter, saying, "Happy to be the newest member of the Baltimore Orioles organization!!! Living my dream!!"

Orioles director of scouting Gary Rajsich, who handled much of the negotiating for the team, said, "We were optimistic it could get done, but there were some stressful times. You're never sure until it's done."

Rajsich called Gausman the keystone of Baltimore's 2012 draft. The Orioles had one of nine unsigned picks from the first 10 rounds, high school pitcher Colin Poche, who selected in the fifth round with the 162nd overall choice.

A draft-eligible sophomore, Gausman was 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA for the Tigers with 128 strikeouts in 115.2 innings. As the deadline approached, there was speculation that he might return to LSU.

On Monday, a story on initially reported that Gausman was headed back to LSU for his junior season but was quickly adjusted to say he was considering that option.

Kevin Gausman: Standing ovation Friday night when he was introduced at Camden Yards

"It was a difficult decision," Gausman said. "I love LSU. I think I always will. Baton Rouge will always be a second home to me."

Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said he believed all along that his team's ace would agree to terms with the Orioles and joked that he might not have let Gausman come back had he turned down the $4.32 million.

"I'm so proud of Kevin, and he's earned everything that's coming his way," Mainieri said. "He developed so much both as a pitcher and as a young man during his time here, and I know the Orioles will benefit tremendously from having Kevin in their organization. I think it says a lot about our program that a young man of Kevin's ability came to LSU and grew both professionally and personally in very significant ways."

The 21-year-old Gausman believes his best pitches are the fastball and changeup.

"My changeup is probably the main reason why I got drafted by the Orioles," he said.

Whether he unveils those pitches in the minor leagues this year remains to be seen.

"That's a conversation that we need to have with Kevin," said Dan Duquette, the team's vice president of baseball operations. "We'll have that conversation in the next couple days. Kevin's been pitching straight between some of the national competitions and college and the summer leagues for two years straight, so I think this little rest that he's had, I know it's welcomed by him. But I think it will serve him well as he gets going in pro ball."

Coming out of Centennial High in Grandview, Colo., Gausman was drafted in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010 and turned down $1 million. He has no regrets.

"No remorse at all," Gausman said. "Thinking back to when I was in high school, I really didn't know what pitching was. I just reared back and tried to throw as hard as I could. "Going to LSU for a couple years definitely benefited me. I'm blessed I had the strength to say no to the Dodgers and be in the situation I am in now."

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