Dylan Bundy #2 – 2013 Top 100
Date of Birth: November 15, 1992(age 20)
Origin: 1st Round Pick(#4 overall) in 2011 out of Owasso HS(OK)
Jeff Reese: For the second consecutive season, I have decided upon a pitcher as my top prospect in baseball. Perhaps it is not the wisest choice, but how could I choose anyone other than Matt Moore in 2012 or Dylan Bundy in 2013? The most advanced high school pitcher in recent memory, Bundy surprisingly lasted until the fourth overall selection in the 2011 entry draft. Even with a limited pitch count that gradually increased throughout the season, he managed to reach the major leagues in his first professional season.
The journey began in the South Atlantic League, and that’s where I got my look. Bundy has been labeled by Mike Newman as a “human pitching machine;” there are few nomenclatures more apt. Bundy has nearly flawless mechanics and a business-like approach on the mound with very brief intervals between pitches. The mid to upper 90s fastball comes out of his hand as though he’s merely playing catch — a rare thing indeed!
An 11-5 curve ball with power, tight spin, and significant depth is his primary off-speed pitch. It already had the markings of a major league out pitch. The cutter was perhaps his most reliable secondary pitch in high school but was notoriously shelved for this season to focus, primarily, on his fastball. He threw one by accident in the start I attended (7:22 mark) at 96! MPH that featured late glove side movement away from hitter Cole Leonida. Bundy’s changeup gives him another offering that should prove to be at least average.Not only is the raw stuff special, the command and sequencing are also advanced. Bundy shows good feel for moving pitches around the zone and setting up hitters within an at-bat.
The only legitimate concern that has ever truly been voiced is his lack of height and projection — a deficiency that is mitigated by his intense workout and long toss programs. I would expect him to return to AA to start 2013, but he could establish himself as a fixture in Baltimore’s rotation by mid season. Dylan Bundy has true ace potential.
Evan Rentschler: The primary narrative, as Jeff ably outlines, was Bundy’s inexorable climb from Low-A to the majors in his first full season. It says something about Bundy that it was both amazing and expected; it’s rare that even our top prospects live up to their projections, and you have to look back to a prodigy like Doc Gooden to find a similarly (though even more) meteoric rise. Gooden’s case is instructive in other ways, as the days of 19-year-olds throwing 200+ major league innings are decisively over in an era of pitch counts and innings limits.
Which leads to the secondary narrative, Bundy’s usage patterns, with armchair player development types (including us) questioning everything from his being started in Low-A to his being limited to three-inning outings early in the year to the moratorium on throwing his cutter. How controversial was all of this, really? Bundy made 25 appearances in all, so was it really a big deal that his first eight, covering 30 innings, were in Low-A? Sure, the results were comical (99 batters faced with only seven reaching base, .93 BABiP (!)), but player development is about more than on-field concerns, and the assignment allowed Bundy to acclimate himself to pro life in a controlled environment.
Innings limits can be irksome from the outside looking in, as we want to see how a pitcher handles himself the second and third times through a lineup, but player development is a long game, and the Orioles have a lot of hopes and dreams tied up in this player. Bundy was given a choice between pitching deeper into games and shutting down early or throwing shorter outings early but pitching the entire year, and he chose the latter. It’s hard to argue the choice as it meant that he was available for Double-A playoff games and those two major league relief appearances.
Shelving the cutter was far more debatable, and you can read our opinion in this “cutting” piece by Don Olsen. The change-up’s progress benefited from the decisions, which was essential, but having seen the cutter courtesy of Jeff’s excellent video, the possibility that it is gone for good is distressing. Still, there’s reason to believe that the pitch will resurface once he’s in the majors, so all may not be lost.
I’m of the opinion that Bundy is the best prospect in baseball. I understand selecting the top position player due to the volatility of pitching prospects, but Bundy is of the same rarefied ability as Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, and Stephen Strasburg: a true franchise talent who should provide immediate, highest-level performance for his team. As hard as it is to find impact up-the-middle performers, a true ace is the Grail. Someday soon the development kvetching above will be a faint memory, and 2012 will simply be the beginning of the legend.
Don Olsen: I know Bundy’s height and the dreaded plane is the big elephant in the room. I know clubs that would rather build a 5 man rotation that could stack up with an NBA team, and that some will not tinker with the idea of adding a pitcher who is “only” 6’0″ tall. I get it. The plane of the fastball, the high release and sharp break you can get from tall pitchers is a giant nightmare, and is something you can never teach. That said, in my eyes, I could care less whether you’re 6’5″ or 5″10″, if you have the arm, the mechanics, and the mental ability to succeed, you can pitch for me any day.
Dylan Bundy has the blend of strength and flexibility to provide an exploding fastball, a deadly cutter, and a knee buckling curve. The curve is so nasty that it has become a youtube legend in it’s own right. This kid has a 6/7 FB, 7/8 Cutter, 6/7 Curve in his pocket. It is tough to see a pitcher with two highly graded pitches, and he has three. There are so many doubters because the average male can look him in the eyes. I graded him at 72 OFP in his senior year and think he has the mental makeup, the nasty bulldog streak, that the Orioles can build a staff around him.
Still, Bundy does need to polish and refine some aspects of his game. I would like to see a bit more action on the change up, but it has progressed nicely from prep to first year as a professional. I can see it sit at least average (a 5 grade),and it’s more likely that his grip strength and maturation will allow it to sit above average with time, and still could reach a plus grade (a 6).
Dylan has to work on his command and control; both tend to drift a little, and it is always something every pitcher can improve. He has been tweaking his delivery, mostly compacting his timing, so everything we have seen for the last year has been him on a “planned program” set by the Orioles. As a result, he is not letting it rip, and he is not using his entire arsenal. He is instead working on hitting his spots.
Some have expressed concern at the speed of Bundy’s fastball in spring training. Look past the velocity this spring; he has elite arm speed. Once he has everything in synchronization, he will be sitting atop a rotation. He is a young pitcher that is still learning the game, learning the hitters, the best is on the horizon. Dylan Bundy has the talent to be great, the work ethic to be iconic.
Fantasy Outlook by Jeff Reese:
Dylan Bundy saw some major league time towards the end of the 2012 season, but, barring a string of injuries, he will go back down to the minors to start the season. He has the blend of front of the rotation stuff and pitchability to lead a fantasy rotation. It may take a year or two for it to fully translate (like Matt Moore), but he should help out in every category.