Why Dylan Bundy Is Already Equipped to Dominate MLB Hitters
Despite the Baltimore Orioles' insistence that they would not promote 19-year-old phenom Dylan Bundy this season, the organization was forced to reconsider following their 18-inning victory over the Mariners late last night (or should I say early this morning?).
The right-hander will provide the potentially playoff-bound Orioles with a much-needed, fresh and extremely powerful bullpen arm after seven relievers were used in last night’s marathon win.
According to general manager Dan Duquette (via Steve Melewski, masnsports.com):
Our immediate need is we made need some innings for tonight's game. Long-term, we think he's going to be a starter in the big leagues. But sometimes it's best to have pitchers get their feet wet out of the bullpen, right? That is where he'll go for tonight's game and after that, Buck (Showalter) will decide how he wants to utilize his skill. He's worked hard to put himself in this position, there is a need and he's on the roster.
Anytime a 19-year-old reaches the major leagues, especially a pitcher, critics come out of the woodwork to question whether the player is ready to perform at the highest level—which is understandable.
However, it’s important to remember that Dylan Bundy is not your average 19-year-old pitcher. If anyone is capable of thriving on baseball’s biggest stage at such a young age, it’s Bundy.
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Bundy turned in a historically good performance at Low-A Delmarva to open the season—his first as a professional. The fact that he was assigned to a full-season league, therefore bypassing several rookie levels, was an initial vote of confidence from the organization.
And the right-hander certainly was impressive, throwing 30 scoreless innings with 40 strikeouts and only two walks. Basically, the 19-year-old was a man among boys in the South Atlantic League.
Bundy was then promoted to High-A Frederick of the Carolina League, where he was challenged for the first time as a professional. Although he proved that he was, in fact, human, the right-hander still excelled. In 12 starts spanning 57 innings, Bundy registered a 2.84 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.
On Aug. 9, when the organization promoted highly regarded shortstop prospect Manny Machado to the major leagues, they correspondingly promoted Bundy to Double-A Bowie.
As expected, he once again exceeded expectations, posting a 2-0 record, 3.24 ERA, 7.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 over three starts. Bundy even logged a postseason start for Bowie on Sept. 5, allowing just one run over six innings.
Until the news of his promotion on Wednesday morning, it seemed as though the postseason start would be Bundy’s last of the 2012 season, as he was scheduled to finish the year in the Orioles’ instructional league.
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Back on Aug. 30, I discussed how it would be a mistake for the Orioles not to utilize Bundy down the stretch of the season. Apparently someone was listening.
Part of me would like to believe that the Orioles have planned this all along. But after reading Duquette’s comments this morning, I doubt that’s the case.
Still, it’s important to note that Bundy has logged only 109.2 innings this season between three levels. While the total may seem high from a traditional perspective, Bundy is a special kind of beast capable of a handling a greater workload.
Considering that he hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 5, the right-hander will be well-rested and ready to make an immediate impact in the major leagues.
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The Orioles aren’t simply promoting Bundy based on what he accomplished against lower-level, minor league hitters. Rather, he possesses a unique and highly advanced arsenal of above-average to plus pitches that should, theoretically, make him successful at any level.
The 19-year-old boasts a four-seam fastball that registers in the 94 to 98 mph range, but he has scraped triple digits on occasion—something to remember as he’s slated to work out of the Orioles’ bullpen. His two-seam comes in a few ticks slower, but features exceptional arm-side run.
However, it’s the right-hander’s advanced command of the pitch that separates him from every other young, hard-throwing pitching prospect. He’s already adept to working both sides of the plate and altering hitters’ eye levels, a trait that’s unique for someone with so little professional experience.
At the time he was drafted, Bundy’s best pitch was arguably his cutter, which receives plus grades. However, the organization—more specifically, Duquette—has prohibited him from throwing it since entering the professional ranks.
Bundy’s secondary arsenal is headlined by a sharp, late-breaking curveball with excellent pace and shape. However, he has struggled at times this season to consistently locate the pitch, often leaving it up in the zone and over the heart of the plate. The right-hander also mixes in a changeup for which he has an advanced feel well beyond his years.
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Lauded for his ridiculous work athletic and training regimen, Bundy possesses both the confidence and maturity to handle such an aggressive promotion. Clichés aside, Bundy seemingly has been groomed his entire life for this moment.
The right-hander is a physical specimen who repeats his mechanics as well as any pitching prospect I’ve seen. Furthermore, it’s not as though they are asking him to come up and start the most important and decisive games of their 2012 season.
Rather, he will be eased into the major leagues as a reliever—a common practice with highly touted pitching prospects. (See Price, David in 2008.)
And as I stated before, if anyone can handle it, it’s Dylan Bundy.