Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles

It should have been you, Dylan Bundy. After captivating the nerdy end of the baseball world last season with his effortlessly dispatching of the low minor leagues, Dylan Bundy eventually made his way to the big leagues at just 19-years old. It was Bundy’s world, he of the exorbitant contract demands as a high school pitcher from Oklahoma.

But an elbow injury slowed Dylan Bundy’s ascent to Major League stardom. In his place steps Kevin Gausman – the new hope for the next wave of Orioles starters. Unlike Bundy, who was brought up as a reliever, Gausman gets to jump right in and do the real thing: start against the Blue Jays in Toronto on Thursday.

Gausman didn’t post the eye-popping numbers of Bundy as he quickly made his way through the low minors, but Gausman has the type of poise and command that makes the Orioles confident he can step in against hitters at the highest level. Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports Gausman made great strides improving his slider, his third option behind his fastball and changeup.

Keith Law loved Gausman in his pre-season rankings, placing him 26th in his top 100, noting his three 60 grade (above-average) pitches and improved delivery as big time pluses. His slider development makes it look like a weapon that will really keep hitters guessing with Gausman on the hill, while his mid-to-upper nineties fastball is certainly a great starting point for a “top of the rotation” starter. Baseball Prospectus takes a similar view, touting his “pure arsenal” as the reason he can compete at the big league level right now.

Gausman will be first among players taken in the first round of the 2012 draft to play in the big leagues, less than one calender year after being selected fourth overall out of LSU. In addition to his pitching credentials, Gausman also brings some personal quirks to the show, such as eating donuts between innings and before his starts.

While the O’s strength and conditioning staff might not allow this habit to continue, the Orioles trend towards aggressively promoting their prospects has worked out pretty well so far. Super Two concerns do not appear to be a major issue for the Orioles, who instead chose to focus on undoing 15 years in the woods as a consistently competitive club in the American League East.