Waiting for Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy

March 05, 2013|By Matt Vensel

The Orioles, the beasts of the Grapefruit League, are in the process of whittling down a list of more than two dozen pitchers into a pitching staff, and the final couple of spots in the Opening Day rotation are up for grabs.

One of those pitchers is Dylan Bundy, one of the consensus top-five prospects in baseball and the latest Paul Bunyan of Baltimore baseball. After the Orioles drafted him with their first-round pick in the 2011 draft, the stocky pitching prodigy who cut down pecan trees before his 10th birthday and whose long-toss regime irked some MLB teams, became a myth of sorts. But a late-season call-up last summer proved that he is in fact real.

But is he the real deal? He has the look, but we are probably going to have to wait a while to find out for sure.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said last month that Bundy and 2012 first-round pick Kevin Gausman will likely start the season in the minor leagues with a major-league ETA of September or October.

Of course, that could all change if Bundy pitches lights-out wherever he lands -- it sounds like Double-A Bowie is the most likely destination -- or if there is a rash of injuries or ineptitude with the big-league rotation.

In two Grapefruit League appearances, Bundy has pitched three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and walking two batters while striking out three. But Bundy hasn't pitched since Feb. 27. Bundy, who was called up last September and made two scoreless relief appearances, was supposed to pitch Sunday. But he recently tweaked his groin, prompting the Orioles to move his next outing back until at least Thursday.

The Orioles opened up their minor-league camp over the weekend, but Bundy -- and Gausman -- will stick with the major-leaguers for at least a little bit longer. There is a lot more to be gained pitching against them.

Obviously, there is probably the temptation to keep him around permanently, so he can be a part of the starting rotation when the season opens in a few weeks. After all, some analysts feel that Bundy is already one of the team’s top five starters right now and the 20-year-old is built like a running back, so it’s not like he can’t handle the workload. But when it comes to one of the game’s top prospects, what’s the rush?

Bundy will be back at Camden Yards sometime this summer with a chance to transform from mythical prospect to the real deal. The young power pitcher would probably help the Orioles out early in the season, but he should be worth the wait.

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