Dylan Bundy: Too Good for A-Ball

Last week, I missed out on Dylan Bundy‘s pro debut, as I just couldn’t make the two-hour drive to Asheville work with my schedule. But, tonight, Bundy was even closer, pitching just over an hour away in Kannapolis, and I wasn’t going to miss him twice in a span of six days. So, I jumped on I-85 and took in a game with the other 100 or so people who decided to brave the sudden cold front that rolled into NC today.

It took me about an hour to get there. Due to his three-inning limit, Bundy was only in the game for about 30 minutes, and he was actually on the mound for less than 10. It was still well worth the drive.

In the first inning, Bundy just showed off his fastball. Inside, outside, up, down, sitting consistently in the mid-90s, he went strikeout/broken bat ground out/pop fly to right. I wasn’t charting, but I’d imagine the whole inning was roughly 10 pitches – each of them an impressive fastball that was impeccably located.

During his between innings warmup, he tossed a couple of curves that showed late biting action, and I looked forward to seeing him use it in the second. He didn’t need to.

More mid-90s fastballs generated a weak ground ball to first, and then he mixed in an 87 MPH change-up that was the best change I’ve seen in a minor league game since I saw Cole Hamels in the South Atlantic League in 2003. Both in terms of movement and location, it was a Major League change-up, and the non-Major League hitter waved embarrassingly at it. He then finished him off with another high fastball.

Again, we saw a nice breaking ball during warmups, and this time, Bundy actually broke it out in the inning. After going fastball-fastball-fastball for three consecutive swinging strikes to send poor Dusty Harvard back to the bench a broken man, Bundy broke off consecutive curves that froze Mark Haddow and left him wondering what just happened. He then went fastball-fastball-fastball again to strike out the side.

Out of the ~35 (this is a rough estimate) pitches he threw, I saw two that I thought missed their spots. Not a single batter pulled the ball all night. The best contact made the entire evening were foul balls off behind the first base dugout, and even those were just “please God let the bat hit the ball” type of swings. The last five batters Bundy faced had about as much of a chance up there as I would have. They couldn’t even make contact, much less try and actually get a hit off of him.

I’ve seen some really good performances in the minors. This topped them all. This was a man-versus-boy scenario. It took about 15 pitches to realize that Bundy does not belong in Delmarva. He probably doesn’t even belong in A-ball.

Plus command of a moving fastball, a Major League change-up, and a buckling curve – this is a guy who simply isn’t going to be challenged by teenage hitters. This is a guy who is going to mow through inexperienced hitters who don’t know how to lay off his high fastballs and force him to pitch from behind in the count. As long as the Orioles leave him in A-ball, he’s just getting his work in. He might as well be throwing simulated games. If they want to him to actually have to pitch out of jams, they’ll need to move him to Double-A. At least.

There is still a lot we don’t know about Bundy. We haven’t seen him face any professional hitter for a second time. He’s never thrown a pitch in the minors with a man on base. We don’t know how well he can hold his stuff as his pitch count rises, or whether he has the confidence to throw his off-speed stuff for strikes when he’s behind in the count. It’s easy to get carried away with the ridiculous dominance and the premium stuff, and that’s where talk about having him end the season in Baltimore comes from. When you watch him throw, it’s not hard to think he hold his own in the big leagues right now. But, there’s still a lot for him to learn in the minors.

He just won’t learn any of it in A-ball. If the Orioles want to keep his workload down and bring him along slowly, that’s their call, but based on ability and readiness for the challenge, he probably should get promoted to Double-A tomorrow. As long as he’s in either Delmarva or even Frederick, he’s just going to be a man amongst boys.

Maybe the Orioles know he needed a confidence boost to start the year. Maybe they just wanted to try and slow down the hype machine by stashing him far enough away from the Majors that they won’t have to consider calling him up if he succeeds. Maybe a lot of things. But after three innings tonight, I’m fairly confident that Bundy’s time in Delmarva is going to be short lived. He’s supposed to take the hill in Greensboro next week – and if he does, I may very well head out there for an encore – but I’m not sure he needs to make another start in this league.

He just doesn’t belong there. The Orioles can put him on whatever path to the Majors they choose, but the reality might just be that he’s going to force them to move him far quicker than anyone had imagined.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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Kirsh
Member
Kirsh
4 years 2 months ago

Excuse my total lack of realism and utter overestimation, but I bet Bundy could hit on days he doesn’t pitch and post a higher WAR than Andino, Reynolds and Chris Davis. He’s gifted.

Even if not, it sounds like he’s going to be some unique kind of force.

max
Member
max
4 years 2 months ago

Waait. He hasn’t allowed a single hitter to reach base?

Also, wow. That is a glowing report if I have ever seen one. Where do you rank him among the other pitching prospects? How about in terms of pure upside?

njd.aitken
Member
njd.aitken
4 years 2 months ago

Six innings.

dbake005
Member
dbake005
4 years 2 months ago

In terms of upside, he is as good as any pitching prospect in baseball. Utter ace is his upside.
Hard to say what he will be based on two starts where they didn’t even let him unleash everything, but he simply wasn’t giving up a hit to that lineup. Just wasn’t gonna happen. He looked bored and unsurprised by every at bat.

He’s really. really. really good. It can’t be overstated at this point. I am excited to see him at a higher level, where he should be soon.

Os Fan
Guest
Os Fan
4 years 2 months ago

That’s 6IP, all perfect, with 12 Ks. Please and thank you.

Jim F.
Guest
Jim F.
4 years 2 months ago

When is Bundy scheduled to make his start in Greensboro? I might have to travel over there and catch it myself.

Bill
Guest
Bill
4 years 2 months ago

Probably never. He will be promoted to Frederick in High-A by the end of the month at the latest.

Trey Baughn
Member
Member
Trey Baughn
4 years 2 months ago

Only 6 innings, but are we talking about Strasburg-esque type “stuff” here?

Kyle H
Member
Kyle H
4 years 2 months ago

I think its different as Strasburg was a college draftee, Bundy is only 19.

jim
Guest
jim
4 years 2 months ago

his FIP is currently negative

MustBunique
Member
Member
4 years 2 months ago

That’s awesome.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 2 months ago

Since his ERA (0.00) is greater than his FIP, you’re saying that he’s been unlucky?

Sammy
Guest
Sammy
4 years 2 months ago

Dusty Harvard is a hell of a name.

Just not a baseball name.

More of a high end courtesan name.

jaybow
Guest
jaybow
4 years 2 months ago

I was just about to post the same thing. Awesome name.

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
4 years 2 months ago

Here’s a modest exercise, a study of a kind which hasn’t made it onto the graphical radar of stats analysis yet. Look up the pitchers born between, say, 20 October and 20 November. That’s right. Bundy’s one of them, fits right in. There is a rationale for those dates (and not exactly what you might think), but that’s a long discussion.

Bundy is the one I would rather my Mariners had drafted. (On the other hand, the Ms walked away with Brad Miller, and he’s likely going to be a regular in the do-over name game in years to come, so there you go.) The thinking of taking Hultzen makes sense to a degree; his risk is lower even if Bundy’s ceiling is undeniably much higher, so locking in probablity of return with the No. 2 is no stupid choice. Pitchers of high end talent blow up their arms with distressing frequency as well. But I’ll always call for drafting the dude born in the window mentioned if he’s remotely comparable to another option at the time of choice. If that factor was weighted properly last draft, Bundy would have topped the board. We see why now . . . .

Simon
Guest
Simon
4 years 2 months ago

You can’t really expect this to be taken seriously without any justification, can you?

David
Guest
David
4 years 2 months ago

If the original poster is serious, I’m guessing it has something to dso with age cutoffs for youth sports. I’m a late November birthday, and was always among the youngest in my grade, and constantly competed with other kids just a bit older, bigger, stronger, and faster…

Aaron (UK)
Member
Aaron (UK)
4 years 2 months ago

I assumed it was because Scorpios make good pitchers because of the leverage in their venomous stinger.

Balthazar may have deliberately got the dates slightly wrong to throw us of the scent, but the confluence between zodiametrics and sabrmetrics is truly the bleeding edge of baseball research.

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
4 years 2 months ago

So Simon, start with it as a thought experiment. If you choose to undertake it, you’ll learn something you didn’t know before. It isn’t my goal to justify something for your approval. The explanation requires a full length text.

And I’m speaking to maximal talent over major league history, not talent distribution in any given year’s cadre of pitchers. The larger point is that talent in pitching, and the kind of pitching talent, has skews in relation to when individuals are born in the year. I don’t personally believe that this is an astrological thing at all; I would propose other hypotheses. But the first issue to asses is, are there in fact such distribution skews? I would argue yes. Pull out your historical abstracts. The extreme high end of pitching talent shows up disproportionately with the range of birthdays I mentioned.

One doesn’t have to explain it to observe it. There is a methodology to determining how cadres cluster, but by itself that’s a larger, and controversial argument. I’ll default ot my original observation, though: Bundy was weighted _by that factor_ as the best talent on the board, given his more measurable talents as well. I’m not talking down other pitchers, simply adding a factor in assessing this particular one. He has the stuff to be an historically salient major league pitcher, which given the talent of those born near that time should not be a surprise.

Jesse
Guest
Jesse
4 years 2 months ago

you have obviously read Outliers recently, but in this case you are most likley wrong. Last year 24 pitchers tallied more than 4 WAR. 4 were born in October or November and Zero born between 10/20 and 11/20

Scott
Guest
Scott
4 years 2 months ago

While it’s not a very good sample size, 4 out of 24 is 1 out of 6. So, a pitcher that put up a WAR of 4 or greater last year was twice as likely to be born 10/20 and 11/20 than the average 31 day span.

Assuming this isn’t just caused by small sample sizes (probably a bad assumption), I would agree with the previous poster that its likely due to youth cut-off ages.

MH
Guest
MH
4 years 2 months ago

He said 4 were born in October or November, so 1/6 in 2 months out of a possible 12… Also, 0 (zero) born between 10/20 and 11/20. So less likely…

JDM
Guest
JDM
4 years 2 months ago

As an O’s fan I’m not looking foward to seeing how tbey’ll manage to ruin this kid’s career :(

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 2 months ago

Bundy’s talent may far exceed A ball, but there’s good rationale behind the move that I don’t think was mentioned. A lot of teams put new pitching draftees a level lower than they should for the first 2 months of their pro careers in order to get them used to pitching every 5 days instead of once a week. There’s a significant difference between playing live ball between your starts, and sitting until it’s your turn to throw a bullpen session 3 days later. Also, not to nitpick his amazing talent, but maybe the O’s want him to work on sequencing his pitches somewhat or throwing to specific spots against easier hitters.

dbake005
Member
dbake005
4 years 2 months ago

Throwing three innings and only throwing one change up and two curveballs that you didn’t even need to mix in isn’t exactly nailing down rhythm and sequencing. He should be higher.

Jason
Guest
Jason
4 years 2 months ago

Obviously. Nobody said the O’s knew what they were doing. What they should be doing is forcing him to thrown pitches in different orders and spots through the at-bat. Making him pitch at a higher level does not automatically mean that he’ll do that. It could have an adverse effect in that he might start to rely too much on one pitch. For example: Clay Buccholz in AA dominated with his curveball, so he didn’t need to throw other pitches at crucial times. The Red Sox messed up by not forcing him to throw a certain number of changes, fastballs, etc. during the game. Therefore: the Orioles would be smart to tell him: throw 1 curve in each at bat during the second inning, throw 1 changeup and 1 curve, etc.

Ray
Guest
Ray
4 years 2 months ago

Just a minor quibble, as I love this coverage for any player…why all the posts about Bundy? I think this is the third in two weeks. It might just be proximity of his mL team to some writers but I’d love to hear reports like this about additional minor leaguers. Bauer’s tearing up AA right now, how’s he been looking? What about Sano, who has 3 HR’s in 20 AB’s…but also 8 K’s?

Anyway, as I said I love the reports on the young kids, just wish we saw a bit more than Bundy.

dbake005
Member
dbake005
4 years 2 months ago

It just happened that Bundy was close to a couple of Fangraphs writers. One drove down to see him, another was close, and seeing him is absolutely worth noting. The love of Bundy isn’t meant to downgrade any other prospects… they’ve just gotten a chance to see Bundy and enjoyed.

Will
Guest
Will
4 years 2 months ago

I have total faith that the Orioles will find some way to screw up Dylan Bundy.

Give him another year or two of the O’s messing around with him, and he’ll turn into another Daniel Cabrera, Jorge Julio, Matt Riley, Denny Bautista, Chris Ray, Chris Britton, Hayden Penn, Garrett Olson, Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta, Troy Patton and the countless others before them, who all were highly touted pitching prospects only to crash and burn in the majors.

Seriously, Mike Mussina was their last successful pitching prospect. No, really, I’m not kidding. Look it up.

Os Fan
Guest
Os Fan
4 years 2 months ago

Erik Bedard? Got slowly better until that almost-CY season, then blew his arm out. Can’t blame the O’s for that, really.

Will
Guest
Will
4 years 2 months ago

Good point. I overlooked him somehow, but I think you’ve still made my point. The Orioles have had one good pitcher come through their system in two decades. That simply defies logic or luck. There has to be something else at play besides bad luck. The Orioles’ minor league development has to be seriously flawed, and acting to make pitchers fail. Otherwise, you’d see more than one pitcher succeed every 20 years.

Os Fan
Guest
Os Fan
4 years 2 months ago

Not arguing with your point. But people always forget Bedard. The season before he got traded was really good.

shibboleth
Guest
shibboleth
4 years 2 months ago

While I agree (though I’d say the jury is still out on Matusz, Arrieta, maybe even Britton) I take heart in the fact that players who moved out of Baltimore never caught on or improved elsewhere. To me, that says more that the players never had the “stuff” to thrive at the ML level, e.g. talent evaluation, rather than pitcher development. Not disagreeing with you here, but hope springs eternal and let’s hope Bundy marks a change after 20 years.

cavebird
Guest
cavebird
4 years 2 months ago

Actually, Bedard has never really stopped being good. He hasn’t pitched badly at all, even recently. He just doesn’t pitch very often because he is always hurt.

Tito Landrum
Guest
Tito Landrum
4 years 2 months ago

To be fair the jury is still out on Arrieta, Matusz, Zach Britton and Tillman. Troy Patton was injured when he was traded from the Stros. MacPhail knew of the injury and took the chance anyway. Patton is looking more and more like he’ll be a very solid bullpen piece going forward (granted, “jury is still out” rule applies here as well) in which Patton could be considered a success.

However, your point is not lost on me. The O’s have been horrible at developing difference making talent for a very long time now.

AK
Guest
AK
4 years 2 months ago

We O’s fans have always known that there’s something seriously wrong with the team’s developmental system, particularly when it comes to pitchers. I’m not sure there’s anyone disputing that fact, including the people involved in the Orioles developmental system.

But I think you’re also neglecting a distinct selection bias that comes from all of these pitchers being part of a system that’s terrible from top to bottom. Talent evaluation, like development, has always been terrible in Baltimore. So not only are the O’s ruining potentially good players as they work through the farm, they’re also bringing in guys who aren’t particularly great prospects but who have become systematically overrated by being the best members among a terrible group. Of your list, probably only Britton, Tillman, Matusz and Arrieta ever deserved their hype. Also, Adam Llowen, who you forgot to include. The Penns, Cabreras, Rileys, Bautistas and Bergesens are marginal propsects at best in any healthy system.

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
4 years 2 months ago

So AK, your point is well made, and I’m largely in agreement. Your in a better position to assess, but it’s been my sense also that the O’s pitching prospects have been stronger on raw stuff and weaker on pitchability also. To me, the later factor figures heavily in their failure rate. Thos O’s flatly don’t seem able to teach anybody _how_ to pitch, so their arms tend to flail until they get hurt trying to teach themselves how to get major league hitters out. That is a system failure if the observation is accurate.

If anyone could buck that putative trend, it’s Dylan Bundy. He already has his own training routine and is highly resistant to having anyone in the org mess with it—so that’s a positive in the present context! Yeah, anybody can get hurt. But if he’s as competitive as he seems, pitch sequencing isn’t rocket science, and there are plenty of sources to learn from is he’s willing.

Jon
Guest
Jon
4 years 2 months ago

no one cares what you think because, you are one in a million of Os pessimists

dbake005
Member
dbake005
4 years 2 months ago

Bundy is just about too good to mess up.

uh
Guest
uh
4 years 2 months ago

They said the same thing about Ben McDonald.

Os Fan
Guest
Os Fan
4 years 2 months ago

Nobody is too good to not get injured…

Will
Guest
Will
4 years 2 months ago

And Matt Riley (ranked 15th best prospect), and Chris Tillman (ranked 22nd best), and Brian Matusz (ranked 5th best prospect), among many others.

Will
Guest
Will
4 years 2 months ago

O’s fan (of all people), Cal Ripken takes exception to that!

Os Fan
Guest
Os Fan
4 years 2 months ago

Sorry: no PITCHER is too good to not get injured.

John C
Guest
John C
4 years 2 months ago

I think AA might be a little too aggressive even for a prospect like Bundy. He still has High-A Frederick he could go to before jumping to Bowie.

I’d rather the Orioles let him stretch out a little (Perhaps at Frederick instead of Delmarva) and shut him down in July instead of keeping his innings so low per start. That would add the challenges of going through the order a couple of times and dealing with fatigue – two things that might be more important right now than trying to retire the best hitters he can in 3 inning sprints.

West
Guest
West
4 years 2 months ago

30 Pitches? Is anyone paying attention to what the Rangers are doing?

shibboleth
Guest
shibboleth
4 years 2 months ago

I have missed the connection… what are they doing?

Kevin M.
Guest
Kevin M.
4 years 2 months ago

It’s only been two starts. The Orioles want to get him used to professional baseball life, travel, pitching every 5 days, before pushing him too much. Delmarva is a great place to do that – much further from Baltimore than either Frederick or Bowie. He will be pushed to 4 and 5 inning starts gradually and most locals covering the team seem to feel that he’ll be in Frederick by early May, at the latest. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets one more three inning start and then moves to four. After 5-7 starts, or about 25 innings, I’d expect to see him in Frederick and probably get 10 starts / 50 innings or so there. This still leaves another 50 innings or so before he hits the O’s 125 inning limit for this season. Plenty of time for him to have to face hitters more than once, pitch with men on base or when batters are ahead in the count. The first 6 innings are just that, a beginning, not the totality of this season.

Bill
Guest
Bill
4 years 2 months ago

Just one more week! At least let him make ONE home start at Delmarva! ONE MORE WEEK! Just give him until next Tuesday at Delmarva! ONE MORE WEEK!

e.gruver
Member
e.gruver
4 years 2 months ago

question is….is he worth a pick up in an ottoneu league? haha

Marc
Guest
Marc
4 years 2 months ago

The Orioles have no need to rush Bundy… What if you send him to AA and he struggles? And then what? You’re going to tarnish his confidence and force him to make drastic adjustments that he shouldn’t be needing to make so quickly. It’s far worse to rush a guy than to move him along slowly.

Casey
Guest
Casey
4 years 2 months ago

Good point Marc. I think the Rays have demonstrated that merit in the slow and patient method with pitching prospects. The Orioles have shown what rushing a pitcher can result in.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
4 years 2 months ago

It’s far worse to rush a guy than to move him along slowly.

Is it?

One could also state that it’s far worse to allow a guy to continue to pitch at a level that’s well beneath his talent level.

IMHO, one of the worst things you can do is to allow talented players to continually have it easy … then they get to a level where it’s challenging and they have no mental idea how to deal with it and they fall apart.

Let him get his feet wet sure. But, have him tested a time or two, and if he gets his arse handed to him, then he knows what he needs to improve on. If he works at it he’ll make it, if he doesn’t he won’t.

The big thing you don;t want to do is throw someone into a level where they are in such survival mode that they significantly alter their process or become overly reliant on one skill.

West
Guest
West
4 years 2 months ago

Agree %100, Bundy pitching in A ball is the equivalent of Danny Almonte mowing down 12 year olds. And the 30 pitch thing is ridiculous, take the kid gloves off and let him go.

Adam G
Guest
Adam G
4 years 2 months ago

Taijuan Walker — August 13, 1992
Dylan Bundy — November 15, 1992

I get the Bundy hype, he sounds phenomenol and you can’t argue with the results. However, I wanted to point out another great young pitcher and see if anyone had first hand accounts of how the 2 matched up. Walker is roughly the same age as Bundy but is 2 levels ahead and also dominating (5 IP 8 K 1 BB). We might have to wait a while, but it would be great to see the 2 go head to head against polished hitters.

Conrad
Guest
Conrad
4 years 2 months ago

He’s pitching against the Greensboro Bats next weekend? What game do is he slated to pitch? I’d love to see him.

henry
Guest
henry
4 years 2 months ago

jesus, that is an intense report on his changeup. His 3rd best pitch is as good as one of the best in the game? god… damn…

Tim
Guest
Tim
4 years 2 months ago

Im not taking away from Bundy here I’m sure hes pretty impressive to see in person…. but could you not take some blatant personal bias out of it. You are sucking him off the entire time sounds pretty gay

Giles_08OCT66@Mem.Stadium
Guest
Giles_08OCT66@Mem.Stadium
4 years 2 months ago

Sigh.

It REALLY has been that bad, and for that long..?
Wow.
At first I thought Ben McDonald was the answer, but he isn’t the exception. He was a phenomenal pitcher at times, a very good pitcher for the Orioles for 6 of 7 years.. but he showed up 2 years before Mussina. Ditto Ballard, Milaki etc.
I guess Arthur Rhodes is as close as we get for a “good” pitcher post Mussina who came up through the O’s “system.”
This brings to mind one of my favorite torments: how close we came to having a starting five from 1996 on of Mussina, Scott Erickson, Jamie Moyer, Kevin Brown and David Wells.

Back to young Mr. Bundy. I like his chances. I’m waiting to see him here in Norfolk. I think he’ll pitch in B’more next year, though probably not at the beginning of the season.

Mike
Guest
Mike
4 years 2 months ago

Another 4IP 6K’s. Kid is filthy.

Totals are now:
13 IP 21K 1BB No Hits.

rustydude
Member
rustydude
4 years 1 month ago

4 outings later, is there anything about Cameron’s conclusions that have proven to be incorrect? This kid is not being challenged at this low level of the minor leagues. Here’s the opening quote of the article I read:

Taking on South Atlantic League powerhouse Charleston on Monday, Dylan Bundy faced arguably the most difficult challenge of his brief pro career.

Umm, no, it wasn’t difficult. 8 k’s in 3 innings.

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