Bundy Arrives in Frederick; Transition from High School to Pros; Inning Limitations and More

Dylan Bundy, rated as the number one prospect by ESPN’s Keith Law, arrived in Frederick Friday afternoon.

“I’m happy to be here. This is one step closer to my dream,” Bundy said.  “That’s what the whole process is about is getting better.”

The 19-year-old prospect was called up to the Keys from the Delmarva Shorebirds after he made eight scoreless starts.  He is scheduled to make his Carolina League debut Saturday against Salem.

All the media attention he has received could make the average person go insane.  Bundy, who was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft, has been able to manage it.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I just push it to the side and take it day by day like I have always done before and just continue to work.”

Bundy found out about his promotion while the Shorebirds were in the middle of a series against Lakewood. It was news he had anticipated for a while now.

The main key to his success in Delmarva was the use of his fastball.  In his final start with the Shorebirds May 20, he threw 58 pitches (55 fastballs). Bundy knows the main adjustment he will have to make as he rises to the Carolina League.

“I definitely have to mix in my off-speed pitches to get ahead in the count.”

The 2011 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year recipient said he worked a lot on his changeup in Delmarva.  The off-speed pitch was rarely needed with the heater.  As he rises through the Orioles system and eventually arrives in Baltimore, he will need his changeup to be effective.

“I saw [Bundy] pitch one inning in spring training,” Keys manager Orlando Gomez said. “He threw the ball well in Delmarva. They have some good hitters in that league and everything. We talked to him today about a game plan, and he needs to have one too.  He has a percentage of breaking balls, changeups and fastballs that he uses. Talking to him he is a very smart kid. He knows when he needs to throw a changeup and breaking ball in different situations, and that is going to be a big plus.”

Bobby Bundy, who is the older brother of Dylan, is currently pitching in Double-A Bowie. The two brothers have a very close relationship and are sharing in the excitement of pitching with the same organization.

“He’s really happy for me,” Bundy said. “I called my dad right after I got the promotion then I called my brother. He didn’t answer of course [laughing], but he was on the field. He was really excited for me. He pitched pretty well here.”

A transition from high school to the pros can be daunting for any young player; especially for the caliber like Bundy. It is not always about the physical nature in terms of getting a player ready for their eventual big league career.  The mental aspect is just as important. Long bus rides can be just as rugged as throwing a 100 mph heater.

“It was especially tough in Delmarva,” Bundy said. “In that league we had as long as six to 12 hour bus rides. That was by far the biggest adjustment.”

Work ethic has always been an important part of the development of Bundy.  He says maintaining a lower body lift, and working the lower back helps him to stay healthy.

Another way he is staying healthy this year is through protection.  The Orioles are cautious with their prized prospect as they have inning limitations.  The gradual progression from three to five innings is an interesting way to go about it.

John Stockstill, who is the Director of Player Personnel for the Baltimore Orioles, was quoted in an interview with MASN saying “Never say never” to along the lines of Bundy pitching in the big leagues as early as this season. He is among a select few of minor leaguers currently on the major league roster for Baltimore.

Stockstill was with the Cubs organization in the late 1990’s into the early 2000’s when Kerry Wood was drafted.  Inning limits were not the norm when Wood came up in 1998.  He threw 166.2 innings in his rookie season.  The fourth overall selection in 1995 did not pitch in the big leagues in ’99 due to Tommy John surgery. Mark Prior, who was drafted second overall by the Cubs in 2001, came up with the big league club in 2002 and threw 116.2 innings. The next year he threw 211.1 innings.  He suffered through arm and elbow troubles. Prior threw his last big league pitch in 2006.

With the Orioles in contention this season, it would make for an interesting decision by the front office on what they want to do with the right-hander.  Of course, a lot will be decided by Bundy himself with how he does in Frederick, Bowie and possibly Norfolk.  If the Orioles were to make the playoffs, would Baltimore consider bringing Bundy up for use in the bullpen?  Think of the Rays when they promoted David Price, who served as a bullpen arm during their 2008 World Series run.  The only difference between the two situations is Bundy was drafted out of high school.  Price was selected from Vanderbilt.

The Orioles are better off letting Bundy work on his own pace.  Let him decide when he is ready for the jump to the higher minor league levels or even the big leagues by his pitching performances.  He is the future centerpiece of an organization that really needs strong young arms.  There is no need to rush him.

Bundy wants to play in the major leagues as soon as possible, but also knows to be realistic on when he gets there.

“It doesn’t really add any pressure to me,” he said. “I want to get to the major leagues as soon as possible, but I want to get there when I am ready. Hopefully it’s in the near future someday. I am just going to keep pitching and doing my job down here.”

Additional Note: Field level seats are sold out for the Bundy debut Saturday, which starts at 6 PM EST.  Come out to Harry Grove Stadium as general admission tickets are still available.  Visit the Frederick Keys website for more information.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Carolina League Dylan Bundy Frederick Keys

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