Kevin Gausman's ball control is off the charts. The Orioles' pitching prospect has walked just two batters in 50 2/3 innings going into his Friday Double-A start, and boasts a 32-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his six starts this season. The scouts' only criticism? Perhaps, he throws the ball over the plate too much.
It's rare to hear that about a pitching prospect who regularly hits the mid-90s.
Gausman pitched a total of 140 official innings between LSU and Class-A ball last year. He already has pitched 35 2/3 this season heading into his Friday night start in Double-A, but his incredible efficiency with his pitches should allow him to stretch out a bit longer than most pitching prospects in their first full season as a professional.
The prospect hype has yet to catch up to Gausman, but it's bound to soon. Owners should take a chance on him, especially if the Mets' Zack Wheeler, currently the most owned minor-league pitcher, is already gone.
Gausman has surrendered a pedestrian .264 batting average against with a 3.53 ERA and a 1-4 record, but he's really just warming his arm up for what is going to be a significant stretch in the Orioles rotation. Jason Hammel (5-1, 4.10), Wei-Yin Chen (2-3, 3.40) and Chris Tillman (3-1, 3.76) are the only certainties for Baltimore right now. Miguel Gonzalez (2-2, 4.58) just went on the DL with a thumb injury and lower-tier prospect Steve Johnson (1-1, 4.41) is expected to make a spot start Saturday before Gonzalez returns to the O's rotation May 19. Freddy Garcia (0-1, 4.26) is currently filling the No. 5 starter's spot after going 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA in his Triple-A tune-up.
Gonzalez and Garcia won't be standing in the elite prospect's way come mid-June, however. Owned in just 14 percent of CBSSports.com fantasy leagues, Gausman is vastly underrated, or maybe just overlooked. Fellow Baltimore uber-prospect Dylan Bundy (elbow, idle for at least the next six weeks) is owned in more than twice as many leagues. Bruce Rondon and Mike Fiers, spring busts, are owned in even more. This all needs to change soon.
Currently, the most owned minor-league pitchers are:
1. Zack Wheeler, New York Mets (42 percent) 2. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates (33) 3. Trevor Bauer, Cleveland Indians (31) 4. Dylan Bundy, Baltimore Orioles (30) 5. Tyler Skaggs, Arizona Diamondbacks (23) 6. Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners (17) 7. Danny Hultzen, Seattle Mariners (17) 8. Bruce Rondon, Detroit Tigers (16) 9. Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers (16) 10. Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays (15) 11. Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh Pirates (15)
Save for the resurgent Wheeler, Bundy or Cole, you shouldn't own any of these arms instead of Gausman in any fantasy leagues, keeper or otherwise. Stash Gausman now before it is too late.
Minor league stock watch
We already gave you a one-month season report on the biggest fantasy prospects last week. This list reflects the past week's performances and news only:
Rehab special mentions
? Brandon Beachy, who had Tommy John surgery last June 21, is building up strength for a rehab assignment that might start as soon as next week. This is a significant development, because it would start a 30-day clock and make him a candidate to arrive in the Braves' rotation by mid-June. Beachy, 26, is a must-own in all leagues with DL spots. He'll be this year's Kris Medlen midseason breakthrough -- and we all remember how that turned out.
? If you miss out on Beachy, the D-Backs' Daniel Hudson shouldn't be far behind. Hudson had Tommy John surgery July 9, just two weeks after Beachy, putting him on track to start a rehab assignment in June. He might even progress to the majors before the All-Star break. At just 12 percent ownership, fantasy owners are really missing the boat -- he's every bit as worthy of being owned as Beachy.
? And, finally, right behind them should be shoulder surgery survivor Michael Pineda (38 percent owned). He should be owned in that many more leagues than Hudson, but Pineda's reports have him reaching the mid-90s again. He could return to the majors by midseason, as well.