Kevin Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft who tossed 48 innings for the Orioles in his debut last season, is headed back to the majors to start Wednesday against the Tigers.
Gausman is one of the best dozen or so pitching prospects in baseball, but recently missed time with pneumonia while at Triple-A. He’s thrown 26 innings with a 2.08 ERA and 26 strikeouts this year, although he has issued 14 walks.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles haven’t said yet whether Gausman will remain in the rotation beyond Wednesday’s start, but he speculates that Miguel Gonzalez could be demoted to the bullpen to make room.
Last season in his first taste of the big leagues Gausman totaled 49 strikeouts in 48 innings despite struggling somewhat overall and averaged 95.9 miles per hour with his fastball. At age 23 he has No. 1 starter upside long term.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.