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Kevin Gausman: Making the Start

Kevin Gausman is 21 years old. He’s a sophomore at LSU. His fastball reaches up into the mid 90s and was ultimately clocked at 100 mph at one point. He’s projected to be a first-round pick in the draft, and he’s only got one thing on his mind:

Friday night’s game.

That’s right. One of the top pitching prospects in the country is more concerned with his next start than where he’s going to end up in the draft. Now, as fans of college baseball, we like to say, “That’s what we expect from our players.” But the true beauty of seeing a top notch player buckle down to focus on the task at hand instead of what’s to come just a couple months from now is remarkable to witness.

Kevin Gausman traveled with the LSU Tigers to take on the Auburn Tigers last weekend in Auburn’s SEC home opener. The entire weekend was subject to astounding pitching match-ups. Gausman faced Auburn senior Derek Varnadore Friday night. LSU’s Ryan Eades faced Auburn’s Will Kendall. Finally, Sunday was a freshman face-off when LSU’s Aaron Nola took on Auburn’s beloved recruit, Daniel Koger. The weekend was full of spectacular baseball on both teams, and it was exciting for everyone at Plainsman Park, fans and players alike.

But how does a young high school graduate make a decision that puts him in a situation to experience this two years down the road?

Coming out of high school, Kevin Gausman was picked in the sixth round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. When asked how he made the decision to go to LSU, he claimed he always wanted to go to a great college with that kind of baseball atmosphere. “I love the experience playing in the SEC, there’s nothing like it,” he says. “Playing for LSU, there’s nothing like it, either. Playing in front of 10,000 at Alex Box Stadium is pretty remarkable and pretty incredible.”

While talking with him, he seemed like he never had a doubt in his mind that he made the right decision. Based on his performances, I don’t have a doubt in my mind, either. With a head on his shoulders just about as good as his pitching arm, Gausman is making all the right moves to be a great college starting pitcher. I don’t know if he knows it, but he’s also making all the right moves to become a great Major League starting pitcher one day, too.

“I’ve really just got to put my team in a position to win,” he says, talking about his LSU Tigers. Gausman knows he’s a first-round prospect, but that’s not on his mind on Friday nights, or any other night of the week. “Get to Omaha, win a national championship, and everything else will just kind of slide into place.”

But of course, who wouldn’t be thinking about going in the first round of the draft to play professional baseball? “I’m thinking about it, but at the same time, I’m playing for LSU right now.” Those words alone are golden for any scout to hear.

When a young college student projects sincere concern for the task at hand, sets aside his personal hopes and dreams to help bring his teammates to a level higher than some of them will ever achieve in their baseball careers, it tugs at the heartstrings of many fans. I don’t know if Kevin Gausman realizes it or not, but his mindset right now is showing his development into becoming a vital part of a Major League organization in the near future. His demeanor, his approach, and his talent are all appealing to any organization in this upcoming draft. It’s no wonder that many draft analysts project him to be a Major League team’s No. 1 or No. 2 starter someday.