Dylan Bundy or Taijuan Walker?

Since seeing Taijuan Walker last week in Chattanooga, the requests for comparisons between the young right-hander and fellow uber-prospect Dylan Bundy of the Orioles have been coming hot and heavy. The exercise of choosing between the two best pitching prospects in baseball (for me at least) is essentially splitting hairs. Does one prefer velocity or movement? Tall or short? Ceiling or floor? Ask ten industry sources and the vote would likely be split down the middle with each having a perfectly reasonable explanation for wanting one over the other. It’s a scenario where there really is no correct answer, only speculation based on experience and personal preference.

In recent weeks, I’m one of the fortunate few who have seen both Dylan Bundy and Taijuan Walker in person. Reports with video on both are linked below.

Dylan Bundy Report with Video

Taijuan Walker Report with Video

Nearly the same age, Bundy checks in as 3-months Walker’s junior. In baseball years, each is playing his age-19 season which will inevitably link them forever more. As for age-versus-level considerations, Walker has been in the Mariners system longer and has put that time to good use by advancing to the upper levels of the organization’s minor league system. Bundy is playing catch up on paper, but has already advanced to High-A and few doubt his ability to handle Double-A if/when the call comes in 2012. In terms of ETA, both pitchers should surface at the major league level at about the same time.

In terms of projection, the discussion of floor-versus-ceiling is where Walker and Bundy diverge. Walker may have the highest ceiling and Bundy the highest floor in all of minor league baseball. At 6-foot-4, Walker is the most physically projectable pitcher I’ve seen in person combining elite athleticism with a picture perfect pitcher’s frame that should fill out at physical maturity. And while the strength may not be there for him to maintain his velocity through seven innings or more right now, it’s only a matter of time as long as Walker stays healthy and fill out his frame. In fact, his adding 30 additional pounds in time may result in even more velocity for Walker.

On the opposite end of the baseball spectrum, Bundy is a pitcher who appears to be able to maintain a mid-90’s fastball for as long as he chooses. Listed at 6-foot-1, he’s the epitome of “country strong” and presents as a human pitching machine. With present polish and stuff that’s already off the charts, Bundy will be in Baltimore as soon as he shows consistency at the upper levels and the organization builds up his innings totals. However, Bundy may be close to maxed out physically raising the question of just how much better he will become if there’s no room to add additional velocity.

This is not to say Dylan Bundy has a low ceiling and Taijuan Walker a low floor. Quite the opposite actually. But if you concede Walker has the highest ceiling and Bundy the highest floor in minor league baseball, deciding between the two hinges on the perceived risk of the less polished product (Walker) and whether it is worth sacrificing the safety associated with Bundy. For this, there is truly no correct answer.

Speaking from experience as somebody who sold out for ceiling my first couple of years writing about prospects, my personal scouting beliefs have shifted from “crunchy” progressive occupying Wall Street to Tea Party conservative at a town hall meeting bickering over an extra $20 in property taxes. This shift in thought process comes after seeing a number of high ceiling prospects crash and burn, while other players I’ve shrugged off have gone on to become big leaguers, if not quality ones at that.

With that in mind, Dylan Bundy would be my choice for baseball’s top pitching prospect, if not the best prospect in baseball, period. The decision was made after conceding Bundy’s floor matches Walker’s ceiling and canceling out both extreme strengths. This left me comparing Bundy’s ceiling versus Walker’s floor and my belief more could go wrong with Walker’s development due to his needing to add polish and minor concerns about arm action and effort in his delivery.

Taijuan Walker is fantastic, but Dylan Bundy is the pitching prospect who I’ve heard repeatedly referred to as, “The best I’ve ever seen” by contacts and acquaintances who have seen him in person. And while pitching prospects are the most volatile of baseball commodities, my hope is to see this discussion continue for the next decade or two as each grows into a franchise pillar for the Mariners and Orioles respectively.



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Mike Newman is the Owner/Managing Editor ofROTOscouting, a subscription site focused on baseball scouting, baseball prospects and fantasy baseball. Follow me onTwitter. Likeus on Facebook.Subscribeto my YouTube Channel.


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Guest
Guest
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Is Dylan Bundy ‘country strong’ because he’s white?

Marcus Thames
Guest
Marcus Thames
4 years 3 months ago

I find this offensive

ago13
Guest
ago13
4 years 2 months ago

I find the fact you’re overly sensitive offensive and silly considering the context of the article….

super-ice
Member
super-ice
4 years 1 month ago

I find Marcus Thames and everyone else who makes this an issue offensive. Plus, your name is gay. What kind of family is named after a British river? LAME-O!!!

bSpittle
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

the tea party protested taxes (led by billionaires) 2 months after the president LOWERED their taxes.

they aren’t a bright bunch.

MoJo
Guest
MoJo
4 years 3 months ago

They protested the tax hike our kids will be paying for because of the “Health Care” passed…you know the one where we are forced to purchase insurance from “evil” health care companies? Yay, Obama!
But you wouldn’t get that. Liberals aren’t the brightest bunch.

CR
Guest
CR
4 years 3 months ago

And here we go.

James
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James
4 years 3 months ago

yay politics

Dave
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Dave
4 years 3 months ago

Peolle who will hijack the comments section of a scouting column as a platform for their own political agenda – not th brightest bunch.

Bradlee
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Bradlee
4 years 3 months ago

Why are you here? There are about 100 other sites you should be wasting your time on spitting out your political beliefs anonymously.
They don’t belong here so please stop. Let’s talk baseball.

Colin
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Colin
4 years 3 months ago

Back to ESPN MoJo.

MoJo
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MoJo
4 years 3 months ago

Interesting BSpittle is the one who hijacked the thread with a political comment. I only responded to his, yet get the “blame.”. Funny how that works.
I actually thought the analogy in the article was a good one.

Anon
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Anon
4 years 3 months ago

Anon, why bother reading my work if you are so hell bent on trying to make me into some monster anyway?

The article wasn’t bad. You used a stereotype (strong + Oklahoma = country strong), and I perceived some bias in your political analogy. I’m curious as to how two (now three) responses to other comments becomes me being ‘hell bent’ to make you a ‘monster’.

Really, I would like an explanation.

Scott
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Scott
3 years 10 months ago

Anon – you may have had legitimate concerns but you brought them up with all the grace and tact of bullhorn.

Justin
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Justin
4 years 3 months ago

When do you think their ETA is? Mid 2013?

David
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David
4 years 3 months ago

O’s fan here – that sounds a bit fast for Bundy. The team is trying to both limit his innings and progress Bundy methodically through the levels (much like the Rays have done with their top pitching prospects, with the exception of David Price). At best, he’ll reach AA in July or August of this year, and he’ll almost certainly start at that level next year. He could follow a similar schedule next year – 5-10 starts at AA, and if he’s dominating, promotion to AAA, and then optimistically, I could see him getting an August or September (2013) callup, depending on the major league team’s record and situation.

We have a number of free agent pitchers after next year (Hammel, Wada, Johnson) so there’ll be space opening up for him to join the rotation full-time in 2014, if he’s ready.

GUY
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GUY
4 years 3 months ago

If he isn’t at his innings limit come late summer 2013, I don’t know how the Orioles could explain not calling him up by September.

Double06
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Double06
4 years 3 months ago

Fantastic article. I would also take Bundy over Walker, gun to my head, but I do want to add something else.

If I’m not mistaken, Bundy has gotten to where he is by pitching his whole life, whereas Walker only pitched in his senior year in high school. This suggests (inconclusively however) that Walker might be less of an arm injury risk going forward.

Jeff V.
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Jeff V.
4 years 3 months ago

Have you seen Bundy’s shoulder workout? Looks to me like the family has been taking preventive measures all along. He also makes it a rule to never throw 100% in game situations.

Okra
Member
Okra
4 years 3 months ago

Have YOU seen Bundy’s shoulder workout? Of course we haven’t .

BSLJeffLong
Member
4 years 3 months ago

@ Okra – rather than being negative you could have spent the time you were typing searching for info rather than mocking Jeff. Here’s a video of Dylan working out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP75ZTK5EcI

Double06
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Double06
4 years 3 months ago

I have, that’s why I put in the qualifier *inconclusively*. In the end we’re basically splitting hairs.

SF
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SF
4 years 3 months ago

I’d disagree with the reasoning of that assertion. Mechanics are a MUCH bigger factor to potential arm injury down the line than the amount of pitching. Bundy’s workout regimen, clean mechanics, and years of repetition would, in my estimation, make him relatively less susceptible than the average pitcher. I haven’t seen Walker, so I can’t compare the two, but just because Bundy has thrown more pitches in his life doesn’t necessarily make him more of an injury risk.

Kyle
Member
4 years 3 months ago

Awesome post, thanks. As a Mariners fan, I share your hope that BOTH end up being really really really good pitchers for a long time.

jdbolick
Member
Member
4 years 3 months ago

Honestly, I’m shocked that the two would even be compared, and after reading the piece I still don’t understand why they were. Walker is a very impressive pitching prospect, yet Bundy not only has the higher floor but a significantly higher ceiling as well. Is this just because Dylan isn’t 6’4″?

Joof
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Joof
4 years 3 months ago

That’s not what the article says. The article says Walker likely has the highest ceiling in Minor League baseball.

jdbolick
Member
Member
4 years 3 months ago

That’s why I raised the question, because Mike is the first I’ve seen even suggest that they’re in the same tier. Taijan Walker is a very good pitching prospect, but Dylan Bundy is in another league altogether. The comparison itself is bizarre, regardless of their similar age, and I’ve seen nothing whatsoever to support the notion that Walker has a higher ceiling.

baty
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baty
4 years 3 months ago

@jdbolick

I don’t think that’s necessarily true. My question then would be, what have you seen that supports the notion of Bundy having the higher ceiling?

We’ve been told by many that Dylan is the better/best prospect, and what he did in A ball, certainly makes that assessment pretty easy to latch onto. All we know for sure right now, is that both are really really good prospects for the time being.

I think we have to remember that most of our prospect opinions are based on information we RECEIVE from what we consider “reliable” and “unreliable” sources. As Bundy is promoted, and starting to actually let up runs, it’s funny that the decision becomes not so clear, all of the sudden.

The “physical max-out argument” is interesting because that is the substantial “flaw” constantly following around Tim Lincecum (not comparing him to Bundy). While Matt Cain has never been on par to Lincecum’s best, you might be able to argue between career productivity right now. And, you never heard a “prospect comparison” between those two same-aged MLBers, simply because the timing, placement, and direction of their developmental bubbles have been so different.

I think this article is a responsible reminder that a prospect(s) study is something that constantly evolves, and comparisons are only real at the moment. Why not make the comparison that doesn’t seem to fit well at first, if only for the sake of comparison?

To me, the not-so-obvious comparable forms are the most interesting ones.

jdbolick
Member
Member
4 years 3 months ago

@baty

Well, everything except this piece from Mike supports the notion that Bundy has not only a higher floor but also a higher ceiling than Taijan Walker. His entire argument seems to be based on nothing more than Walker being taller. Even on that he made the claim that TW has more downward plane on his pitches and that downward plane is “extremely important for projecting big league success,” but I’ve seen no evidence that downward plane is so critical. I also showed that a three inch difference from 60’6″ away creates an angle difference of just a quarter of one degree, and that Bundy actually has a higher arm slot than Walker, so it’s possible that Dylan is the one with greater downward plane.

You say that the decision has become “less clear” as Bundy has started to give up a few more runs, but that’s not really true. This isn’t an industry-wide phenomenon where people are now questioning Bundy or promoting Walker above him as a prospect. As far as I know, no one else besides Mike is doing that. If anything, those within baseball seem to think even better of Dylan now than they did prior to the start of this season.

Honestly, I think this is all just about Mike having a particular affinity for Taijuan Walker, and I can relate to that. I’ve been guilty of over-hyping a prospect that I liked more than most, and it’s certainly possible that Walker will go on to have a superior major league career to Bundy. My problem with the piece is that it seems based entirely on nothing more than three inches of height and the notion of plane when, as noted, there’s very little if any difference in angle between the two. I enjoy columns that go out on a limb and make me consider something I hadn’t thought of before, but I want that to be based on something real and to be informative.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 3 months ago

Just saying that he’s 3″ taller and so his release point is 3″ higher doesn’t quite stick to me. Your wingspan is generally equal to your height, so Walker’s arm is longer than Bundy’s and his shoulder would (should) be 3″ higher if they have the same proportions. If Bundy has shorter arms, and his shoulders are proportionally lower to the ground than Walkers, and Walker’s shoulders are proportionally higher and he has abnormally long arms, the difference may be more than 3 inches.

Plus stride length, how they hide the ball, etc can change a lot too. Reaction time of a guy throwing 90MPH can be like that of a guy throwing 95MPH if he hides the ball well and releases the ball closer to the plate.

That said, Bundy is insanely good. Walker has the prototypical “pitcher” look everyone looks for. Bundy seems to be a lot better with an unconventional look.

GUY
Guest
GUY
4 years 3 months ago

“Nearly the same age, Bundy checks in as 3-months Walker’s junior. In baseball years, each is playing his age-19 season which will inevitably link them forever more.”

I’d say that’s your answer right there. Long as these 2 continue to have success as “uber prospects” they’ll be linked due to age and similar development.

viconquest
Member
viconquest
4 years 3 months ago

Quantified by whatever metric you want, what exactly are the differences in ceiling? Bundy is already throwing harder than Walker and can maintain the velocity longer. I can see how Walker’s height gives him a better downward plane. Does Bundy have a straight fastball?

everdiso
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everdiso
4 years 3 months ago

The correct answers is Deck McGuire

Chris
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Chris
4 years 3 months ago

Bundy maintains his velocity? Through the 3 inning caps they place on him. Get real dude.

GUY
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GUY
4 years 3 months ago

Look it up dude! He pitched 5 innings in both his last 2 starts and he’s through 4 thus far today.

David G
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David G
4 years 3 months ago

zook

leapfrog
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leapfrog
4 years 3 months ago

Question for you Mike:
Back in March Marc Hulet ranked Walker behind Miller, Teheran, Cole, Bauer, Taillon, Skaggs, Bradley, Wheeler, Turner, and Hultzen. When you call him possibly the best pitching prospect in the game, is that because you would have ranked him much higher before the season, because you think he’s leapfrogged these guys, or some of both?

Colin
Guest
Colin
4 years 3 months ago

Bundy is just disgusting. Although Walker is a superb prospect, I don’t see how anyone can really compare to Bundy right now. I really have a tough time buying into the idea that Walker even has a higher ceiling let alone one big enough to make him the better prospect.

Gerrythek
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Gerrythek
4 years 3 months ago

One aspect not discussed: I’d rather have a guy who pitches half his games at Safeco rather than someone who has to pitch at Camden Yards.

ccoop
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ccoop
4 years 3 months ago

well, obviously…but that has nothing to do with their relative merits as prospects.

Matthias
Guest
4 years 3 months ago

Each would enjoy the benefit Safeco gives pitchers. So you can’t really compare them based on what ball park they will be playing in, unless you know a lot about their groundball rates and such.

reillocity
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reillocity
4 years 3 months ago

Do you think organizations with thin (depthwise) farm systems will ever muster the courage to try to turn that one “most volatile of baseball commodities”, specifically the recent high-school-draftee uberprospect starting pitcher who is having success at A ball (now AA for Walker), into 2 or 3 less volatile sub-uberprospects via a trade? We haven’t seen this type of move yet, but given how coveted that sort of prospect is today I am wondering if that might actually be a very smart course for some of those organizations to pursue. If so many people think that that Bundy is the best they ever saw, wouldn’t that tend to incredibly overinflate his trade value? Could he or Walker ever meet the expectations heaped upon them now as guys who will pitch just every 6 days with a ton of restrictions on their pitch and inning counts for the short term?

Bob
Guest
Bob
4 years 3 months ago

That’s a really tough question. If you could turn 1 potential HoF player into two potential all-stars, or three solid starters, would you do it? I probably would for the former, but not the latter.

In either case, you better be certain about all your evaluations. That is the type of trade that could come back to haunt you. And be ready for the media/fan backlash regardless.

reillocity
Guest
reillocity
4 years 3 months ago

Yeah, it would be a bit like trading down and out of the one of the top 2 or 3 spots in an NFL draft. MLB GMs aren’t conditioned to think that way since they don’t have that luxury of swapping draft picks. When they think about turning one player into multiple players as the GM of a rebuilding team, they see that one player as a veteran major leaguer and probably never even consider trying to turn their best prospect into more prospects.

Chris
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Chris
4 years 3 months ago

Whoa!!!! 3 straight games with 5 IP???? And now he’s getting roughed up. Shocking.

Br10n
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Br10n
4 years 3 months ago

I was at that game where he was “roughed” up..he did give up a HR but none of the other hits left the infield. They did not get rough him up.

Brad
Guest
Brad
4 years 3 months ago

What is it with snarky people today? It was a good article – interesting and enlightening for me since I had never seen either of them pitch. Thanks Mike!

Political, social and religious views are important. But more important is respecting the OP’s intent which certainly was not to venture into those realms. *sighs

Balthazar
Guest
Balthazar
4 years 3 months ago

So Mike, you’re comparative analysis is very interesting, particularly your considerations of celing vs. floor. I’m in agreement with your assignments of those capacities to Walker and Bundy respectively. Furthering that, one could consider Walker’s picking up a curvevall over a few games last season that has excellent break and plus-plus potential; that speaks to ceiling, and likely grades above Bundy’s (themselves excellent) secondary pitches. OTOH Bundy’s control has been _phenomenal_; that speaks to a high floor, and is far in advance of Walker’s control which for him speaks to a potentially lower floor.

It’s interesting to think that Bundy could easily have been drafted by the Mariners if Dylan hadn’t had a teen’s fixation on pitching for his brother’s Os, though Hultzen is making his pick look diamond-bright too.

300ZXNA
Member
300ZXNA
4 years 3 months ago

In case it gets lost in all of the negativity, I think this piece is awesome. Great to see high level scouting input alongside the high level statistical analysis here on FG. Some people in the comments today need a hobby.

Chris
Guest
Chris
4 years 3 months ago

The old get a hobby line, classic. I would get one, but I have a hard time leaving my parents’ basement.

300ZXNA
Member
300ZXNA
4 years 3 months ago

I was intentionally trying to keep my post more benign/positive than some of the bitching and moaning going on. I chose the hobby line because it just seemed a little less inflammatory than telling people to fornicate their anus with a chain saw . . .

Chris
Guest
Chris
4 years 3 months ago

2 ER in 5IP isn’t roughed up at any age…Just saying.

Chris
Guest
Chris
4 years 3 months ago

You’re right. Looks a lot more human is more accurate. I don’t think 3 straight 5 IP outings after a string or 2, 3 IP outings are an indicator of his ability to maintain velocity.

Nick
Guest
Nick
4 years 3 months ago

I really enjoyed the article, so thanks a lot, Mike, for sharing your ideas. I was wondering if you could provide more past examples of people who fit in either the high floor or high ceiling category. For example, as a Yanks fan, would it be correct to say that Ian kennedy was a high floor prospect while both Joba and Hughes were more high ceiling?

And is there a correlation between polish and high floor?

themiddle54
Member
themiddle54
4 years 3 months ago

How about Bundy or Jose Fernandez?

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 3 months ago

I don’t understand why you would dock Bundy for being “maxed out”. I mean, I DO understand, but I sort of want to challenge that thinking. Maybe Walker gets better, maybe he doesn’t, we don’t know. However (and yea this is fangraphs and lol @ players getting better by thinking better and not something quantifiable like velocity or movement), Bundy can conceivably learn more. He has 4 pretty good pitches. He’s going to get smarter. He has pretty good stuff and some of his stuff may get better. He’ll definately get smarter.

Walker MIGHT get better stuff. He might not. Both will learn how to pitch better though. Right now, who has better stuff? Bundy does probably. He has a thick trick and thick legs, which seems to suggest he can go. Other than mechanics, a lot of people including Ryan, will say that keeping his legs in great shape is what kept Nolan Ryan in the game so long.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 3 months ago

Also, where would you put Teheran? His age 19 season was about as good as Bundy’s so far and he ascended 3 levels. Teheran’s DIPS stats aren’t as good as Bundy’s, but I don’t think that paints a very complete picture.

Nivra
Guest
Nivra
4 years 3 months ago

Mike,

Awesome article about ceiling vs. floor. I’d love to hear more about how you decide what a prospect’s ceiling or floor actually is. For instance, what physical tools do you look for in projecting ceiling vs. floor, and how the traditional scouting tools help projecting and how advanced statistics helps in that projecting.

Thanks!

Also> Speaking of 19-y.o. pitchers, when are you going out to Augusta to see the duo of Crick and Blackburn? Mejia, is also 19 there, and may be back in the rotation, soon. I’d love to hear your in-person thoughts about that trio.

Jack Weiland
Guest
Jack Weiland
4 years 3 months ago

What’s with all this “consensus is Bundy is better than Walker” talk? What consensus? Kevin Goldstein is at least one other prominent prospect writer who has said many times he’s more impressed with Walker’s work at AA than Bundy’s work at Low-A (not sure if he’s said this again since the promotion or not, but still). And if you think it’s ridiculous to compare these guys? Guess what, don’t click the link. It’s really, really that easy. This is a good piece that I enjoyed.

One question for Mike: who were the high ceiling guys you alluded to missing on? And on the flip side, who were the guys you shrugged off that went on to have solid big league careers? Just curious. Not an indictment in any way, as prospecting clearly involves a LOT of swing and miss.

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