Kevin Gausman came to the Tigers already with high expectations. He was a two-time All-American selection in high school and turned down a sixth round selection by the Dodgers to attend LSU.
All that pedigree and yet his personality didn’t necessarily match the aura. From his lanky frame to his mid-inning powdered donuts, to the untrained eye Gausman might not appear to be the stuff that turns into a fourth overall pick and collegiate All-American.
If one had doubts about Gausman, they didn’t last long once he took the mound.
In spite of his initial looks, Gausman brought the gas from day one, with a natural delivery that had his fastball hanging in the mid-90’s with the occasional flash in the triple digits. He paired that with a changeup and slider to keep batters honest when they attempted to hone in on the heater.
As a freshman, it took a bit of an adjustment, but as the season progressed, he showed the dominance that made him such a high-caliber player. Gausman posted a 5-6 record with a 3.15 ERA and 86 strikeouts, good for eighth most in the conference. After a slow start to the season, Gausman had something of a breakthrough against top-ranked Florida pitching eight innings and allowing just one run. His month of May was arguably his best month as a freshman. He was named freshman of the week on May 2nd after seven-inning, two hit, eight strikeout performance against Kentucky. A few weeks later he tossed a shutout against the Razorbacks striking out eight. With the shutout he became the first LSU true freshman to record a shutout since 1993.
The next season Gausman was just flat dominant. He went 12-2 with a 135 strikeouts and a 2.51 ERA. The wins and strikeouts were best in the conference, and his strikeouts were third best in the nation. Gausman would have three games where he posted 11 or more strikeouts and two complete games. He also proved his value as a workhorse starter, with 123.2 innings pitched which was second most in the SEC. Gausman proved his worth in the postseason as well with stellar appearances against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament, Oregon State in the regional, and a relief appearance in a win over Stony Brook. In all, it was enough to earn first team All-American and first team All-SEC recognition.
A draft eligible sophomore, Gausman departed following his second season and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles.
There have been many outstanding pitchers in the history of LSU baseball. Although his career was only two seasons, Gausman certainly belongs in that conversation.