Gausman flashing top-5 pick ability

Updated: April 14, 2012, 3:45 PM ET
By Keith Law

LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman, who was sixth on my most recent ranking of the top prospects for this year's draft, threw at Alex Box Stadium on Friday night against a largely overmatched Alabama team, and was clearly a different pitcher from the one I saw when he was in high school, and even different from the pitcher he was a month ago.

Gausman was 94-97 in the first few innings, and still 93-96 in the 8th, with better command than he'd had in the past; he still gets too much of the middle of the plate at times, but showed that he could attack the corners successfully at least some of the time. Gausman had been using a curveball as his primary breaking ball until his last outing, at which point he switched to a slider that is a much better weapon for him now and in pro ball. At 82-86, it has a hard mostly downward dive that should be tough for pro hitters to pick up in time to lay off it. Gausman's changeup, described earlier this spring as his best off-speed pitch, lacked its usual action, with just fair arm speed at 84-86, and he didn't have any feel for it.