Courtesy of Fangraphs.com
If you haven’t heard of Dylan Bundy before…you might be forgiven. As a full time baseball zealot, one can sometimes lose track of reality: not everyone tracks the progress of 19-year old pitching prospects in the Orioles system. If this applies to you, feel no shame. It is, however, time to rectify this significant hole in your baseball pleasure center.
Bundy was the Orioles first pick in the 2011 draft, selected fourth overall out of high school in Oklahoma. Bundy was best known for his exorbitant bonus demands (reportedly seeking a Strasburg-type contract before settling for a more pedestrian five-year, $6.225 million MLB deal.) Dylan Bundy is also a devoted long toss practitioner like Trevor Bauer, warning teams that frown on extreme long toss that he would not change his regimen.
That is what Bundy was known for before this season started. After thirty innings of sheer dominance in the low-A South Atlantic League, he is known as possibly the best pitching prospect in baseball – a prospect already on his way to High-A. (Update: Keith Law rates Dylan Bundy the best prospect in baseball in an update to his Top 25 list ($).)
The Orioles announced Wednesday that Bundy will move up a level to High-A, leaving a trail of death and destruction in the Sally League. The phenom’s numbers are downright staggering: 8 starts, 30 innings pitched, 99 batters faced (!!). Forty (40) strikeouts, two (2) walks, five hits and zero earned runs allowed. Zero earnies!
The video at the top of this post is from a terrific scouting report on Dylan Bundy that Fangraphs published yesterday – must read stuff. Author Kiley McDaniel discusses the pros and cons of starting Bundy at low-A, noting that moving such a young player levels during his first professional season can be difficult off the field more than on it.
The level of dominance exhibited by Bundy is uncommon, especially for such a young pitcher. A recent SI profile details (here re-purposed by the gym that helped build his impressive/freakish physique) his intense focus on diet and fitness and the aforementioned Fangraphs scouting report goes over his vast array of pitches. Many early reports on Bundy suggest low-A hitters were no match for his fastball (graded at 80 by McDaniel on the 20-80) to the detriment of his other pitches.
The move to the Carolina League should prove a stern test for Bundy, now the youngest player on his team by more than two years (and among the three youngest players in the entire league.) Then again, pitchers with “nearly flawless” mechanics who can also squat 500 pounds and throw 99 miles an hour tend to do well no matter the age of their opposition.
While I am no expert on the biomechanics of pitching, the side view of Bundy’s windup looks an awful lot like “easy cheese” to me. His arm speed is mildly terrifying, little wonder he is able to generate such incredible velocity.
Bundy is a special prospect and the Orioles are handling him very, very carefully. Determined to protect his arm, they limited him to three inning starts to begin his career, limiting his pitch count very carefully. The move to high-A will not deter the O’s from keeping Bundy on a clear 125-130 innings cap for the season.
The Orioles get a lot of stick here at Getting Blanked for a myriad of reasons (their draft history included) but between Bundy and Manny Machado, two of the very best prospects in all of baseball reside in their minor league system. Careful as they might be, Dylan Bundy is on a fast track to the Major Leagues. Hitters of the Al East beware.