The Orioles selected hard-throwing Oklahoma high school right-hander… (Tulsa World photo by Stephen…)
Sidestepping speculation that swirled around the club in the previous 24 hours, the Orioles ultimately landed the player they wanted with the fourth overall pick in Monday night's annual amateur draft.
Watching while three college pitchers, including two from the same rotation, were selected in front of them, the Orioles chose right-hander Dylan Bundy form Owasso High in Oklahoma, the 18-year-old phenom who was widely considered the best high schooler in this year's draft.
It's the third consecutive time the Orioles have taken a prep player with their top pick — selecting shortstop Manny Machado (third overall) in 2010 and pitcher Matt Hobgood (fifth overall) in 2009.
The Orioles have long coveted Bundy, who was 11-0 and allowed 20 hits and two earned runs (0.20 ERA) in 71 innings in his senior season. He walked just five batters while striking out 158 and was named the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Bundy possesses a mid-to-upper-90s fastball, hard cutter, sharp curve, developing changeup and reportedly maturity beyond his years. The Orioles would like to see him move fairly quickly through the system.
"Barring any injuries or anything, he is going to be on a good pace for a high school player, a high school pitcher. A very good pace," said Joe Jordan, the Orioles' director of amateur scouting. "I wish we could get him out 10 days from now because I think he could get out and get going. That won't happen, as we all know. But he will be on an accelerated pace if nothing bad happens."
Bundy seemingly was Jordan's anticipated target at No. 4, but Sunday night, speculation arose that the Orioles might be leaning toward picking Archie Bradley, another high school right-hander from Oklahoma.
Bradley and Bundy, who have known each other for years and share the same representation, watched the draft unfold on television together. Bradley's Broken Arrow High team beat Bundy's Owasso squad for the Oklahoma 6A championship in May, but Bundy won the draft race Monday. Bradley was taken seventh overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"Me and Archie Bradley both were sitting there in this huge ballroom with a bunch of our friends and family, and we saw the fourth pick come up for the Orioles and we had a pretty good idea it might be one of us, but we weren't sure," said Bundy, whose older brother, Bobby, was drafted by Jordan and the Orioles in the eighth round in 2008 and is a starter with the High-A Frederick Keys. "And then my name got called out and I recognized that it was my name simply because of Bundy. And I kind of got emotional. I started to tear-up a little bit because the first thing I thought of was my brother, because he's in the organization and how I dreamed of playing with him and it's actually happening now. So it's been amazing."
At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Bundy is considered a workout fiend who has immense power and utilizes weightlifting, boxing and an extensive long-toss throwing program to build arm strength.
"The stories are true," Jordan said. "He's just so determined and very disciplined. I think the more that everyone gets to know him and kind of what he's about, you can just kind of understand a lot of our attraction here. Beyond the physical ability that we think he has, he's unique in just his ability to focus and do the work that you need to be to be very good at what you do."
Jordan, who is also from Oklahoma, watched Bundy play third base as a freshman and has been at plenty of his starts on the mound in the past three years.
"Body of work, I don't know how many of games I've seen, but it's been a lot," Jordan said.
The relationship the Orioles already have with the Bundys may make it easier to sign the 18-year-old who has a scholarship to play at Texas.
"We have work to do to get a contract negotiated, and we understand that. But at the end of the day, this kid looked me right in the eye and he said, 'Joe, I want to be drafted by the Orioles and I want pitch in the major league rotation with my brother.' And I really believe that is what he wants," Jordan said.
"We are going to pay him a lot of money. He's worth a lot of money. We'll get something done," Jordan added. "But I believe the sincerity in that kid's face when he looked at me and told me that. He meant it. So I think we're in good shape."
Said Bundy: "Me and my brother obviously talked about [playing together]. We are brothers. I have told him I wanted to pitch either against him in the major leagues or with him. One-two starter combo would be awesome, and it has come to reality today that I might get that opportunity to do that in the near future."
There were reports last month that Bundy was seeking a record-breaking contract — perhaps worth as much as $30 million — which might have scared off some teams. But Jordan said he's not concerned about those supposed demands.