There was some confusion yesterday about Baltimore Orioles rookie Kevin Gausman not showing up on the Top 75 End-of-Season Prospect List, so I want to clarify my thinking here to avoid misunderstanding.
This was simply a matter of eligibility. For pitchers to count as a rookie/prospect, my standards are 50 innings for starters and 30 innings for relievers. When I wrote the list, I was assuming that he was no longer counted as a prospect, however in retrospect Gausman's case is definitely borderline. He has been used as both a starter and reliever this year, currently with 46.1 innings pitched, so that puts him right in the gray eligibility area. I'm not sure how service time is going to play into his case.
Ultimately I haven't decided whether to include Gausman in the 2014 book or not. I may go ahead and do so since he is so interesting. Gausman said yesterday that his off-season goal is to gain 20 pounds and boost his durability. He's definitely a starter long-term, a point in favor of including him as a prospect since he should come in under 50 innings.
Talent-wise, I think everyone who saw him pitch this year has to be impressed with the quality of his stuff, particularly his fastball and change-up. Statistically, his 5.83 ERA in the majors looks ugly, but the underlying components are solid with a very good 47/13 K/BB ratio. His FIP at 4.10 and xFIP at 3.10 show that the simple ERA is a bit misleading. In his last 13 innings of work, he's held hitters to a .225/.288/.354 line.
In terms of grading and placement, I would rate him as a Grade A or strong A- prospect. He would likely rank at 11 on yesterday's list, just ahead of New York Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Jameson Taillon.
That said, there is a case to be made that Gausman should rank even higher than that. I am firm on Seattle Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker as the top pitching prospect in baseball, but you can make a case that Gausman should rank ahead of Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Archie Bradley.