Twenty-nine strikeouts, one walk.
Those are right-hander Kevin Gausman’s numbers in 28 2/3 innings for the Orioles at Double A. And while Triple A right-hander Freddy Garcia likely will start Friday or Saturday in Anaheim, Gausman, 22, might not be in the minors much longer.
The Orioles, after demoting right-hander Jake Arrieta, are trying to establish a fifth starter. Garcia is the logical next choice — he’s 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA at Triple A, and he can exercise an out in his contract if he is not in the majors by May 15, a major league source said.
After that, the Orioles could turn to righty Jair Jurrjens, who is 2-1 with a 2.64 ERA at Triple A and has an out date of June 15, according to the Baltimore Sun. In Gausman’s case, it would make sense for the team to keep him in the minors until at least June to prevent him from attaining “Super Two” status and gaining an extra year of arbitration.
The Orioles need not use Gausman as a starter immediately — they could break him in as reliever, supplementing one of their strengths. Either way, general manager Dan Duquette showed last season that he is willing to aggressively promote his top young talent, summoning third baseman Manny Machado and then right-hander Dylan Bundy.
Gausman, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, is 1-3 with a 3.77 ERA at Double A. While his strikeout-to-walk ratio is excellent, he is allowing more than a hit per inning. Bundy, meanwhile, is out with right flexor mass tightness and unlikely to rejoin the Orioles anytime soon — he received an injection of platelet-rich plasma on Monday and will be shut down for six weeks.
Rival scouts, executives and players were impressed with Gausman in spring training. The Red Sox’s Jonny Gomes, who faced Gausman twice, said, “A young guy like that who throws 98 and can throw his off-speed stuff for strikes? ... Forget about it.”
— Ken Rosenthal