I thought it would only be a possibility (Gausman coming back to school) if some really bizarre happenings took place.e_SDRq PAUL MAINIERI, LSU baseball coach
A half-hour after Kevin Gausman beat the MLB draft’s signing deadline, LSU coach Paul Mainieri took a call from the All-American pitcher with two years of college elgibility remaining.
Mainieri told Gausman how proud he was. He asked if Gausman had brought appropriate attire for a news conference in Baltimore later that evening.
“I’ve got a little bit of a tear in my eye,” Mainieri told his departing ace. “But believe me, it’s a tear of joy.”
Mainieri may have found himself jumping for joy had Gausman, taken by the Orioles with the fourth pick of the draft last month, passed on pro ball for the second time in three drafts and returned to LSU for a junior season.
Gausman flirted with the idea, but got a deal done with Baltimore minutes before the 4 p.m. deadline Friday.
The right-hander from Colorado secured a signing bonus from the Orioles of $4.32 million, making him the only player drafted in the top five who signed for more than the recommended bonus. Gausman signed for $120,000 over the slot.
“It was a difficult decision,” Gausman said at his news conference in Baltimore, where he sat next to general manager Dan Duquette and posed with a white O’s jersey. “I love LSU. I think I always will. Baton Rouge will always be a second home to me.”
Gausman arrived at LSU in 2010 after being taken in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of Grandview High in Centennial, Colo. He passed on a reported $1 million signing bonus knowing he would turn 21 in two years and be eligible for the draft once more as a college sophomore.
“Going to LSU for a couple years definitely benefited me,” Gausman said. “I’m blessed I had the strength to say no to the Dodgers and be in the situation I am now.”
Gausman solidified his status as an elite prospect at LSU, mixing a devastating mid-90s fastball with a balanced repertoire of off-speed pitches. He finished 11-2 with 2.72 ERA this year, helping the Tigers win the powerful Southeastern Confeence before losing to Stony Brook in the super regionals.
In his final two starts of the regular season, Gausman threw complete games against Vanderbilt and South Carolina on back-to-back weekends.
On June 4, he became the second-highest draft pick in LSU history behind Ben McDonald, the top overall pick by Baltimore in 1989.
Mainieri described Gausman as a poster child for college baseball — a player who arrived on campus a good prospect and left as a great one. He could hardly be offended when Gausman chose the second-highest signing bonus in the draft (behind No. 2 overall pick Byron Buxton, who signed with the Minnesota Twins for $6 million) over another shot at helping LSU reach the College World Series.
“I thought it would only be a possibility (Gausman coming back to school) if some really bizarre happenings took place,” he said. “If somehow the negotiations got very personal and for some reason Kevin just didn’t want to join that organization.”
“I was,” he added, “holding a spot on the roster for him just in case.”