Scouting Dylan Bundy

For my day job, I write up scouting reports on amateur players for ESPN’s Draft Blog but have been catching minor league games on the side when my schedule permits. I’m happy to bring some of my scouting reports to FanGraphs, and first up is the buzziest prospect of them all, Orioles righty Dylan Bundy. I caught his start in Charleston versus the Yankees affiliate on May 7th and I pieced together some video from the game:

Video after the jump

Fastball – 80/70 (Present/Future)

Bundy came out of the gates throwing 97-99 mph in the first inning and settled in at 95-98 mph for the second and third innings. Bundy left after 61 pitches through three innings when he had some command issues in the third, keeping him from going the scheduled four innings.

The key for Bundy long-term is he creates this velocity almost effortlessly with a clean arm and delivery, which bodes well for his long-term command. When he got in trouble in the third inning, he was overthrowing and leaving some pitches up, which is very normal for a young power pitcher.

Bundy’s fastball has occasional sink and run, but I think he’ll develop more. Pitchers tend to slowly lose velocity as they age and starters tend to add movement and command for a tick or two of velocity as they mature. A 70 fastball is still sitting 94-96 for 100+ pitches, so it’s a subtle adjustment.

Curveball – 50/60

Bundy only threw a handful of curveballs and didn’t have consistent feel for it, leaving it up and not quite finishing it completely. It’s a true 12-to-6 hammer with depth and late bite that flashed plus potential at 76-78 mph. I didn’t get a great look at his curve in this game and there may be better than a 60 pitch here as the tight spin and late bend were impressive.

Changeup – 50/55

Bundy throws a power change at 88-91 mph that has good deception and occasional late dive, but it doesn’t have a lot of movement and he had trouble locating it consistently. The pitch loses life up in the zone and Bundy only threw it a handful of times, so with more development it may be plus, but I didn’t see that in this game.

Cutter – 60/70

If he didn’t throw a cutter/slider hybrid, Bundy would be a great pitching prospect but not necessarily a special one. The Orioles have instructed Bundy to shelve his cutter to simplify his repertoire as the hybrid can sometimes morph into two separate pitches and throwing a slider and curve can affect the feel and shape of both pitches, particularly for young pitchers.

I think it was by accident, but Bundy threw one fastball with heavy cut at 96 mph that was his best pitch of the night and scouts have told me the cutter was Bundy’s best pitch as an amateur. When Bundy has polished his command, curve and changeup more and starts throwing the cutter again, look out.

Command – 45/55

In the scheme of things, Bundy’s command issues in the third inning were just that, one inning of command issues. He’s a freakish athlete with crazy arm speed and a near perfect arm action that had some issues he wasn’t given a chance to solve on the mound. As for more permanent concerns, Bundy doesn’t create much deception or downhill plane (he’s only 6’1), but that’s getting nitpicky.

Usage Questions

The question everyone is asking about Bundy is why he’s still in Low-A. The reasons players typically spend their first full season out of high school with one minor league team is an off-the-field reason: learning how to live independently. If you transferred twice during your first semester away from home, you’d learn some bad habits as well and I’m guessing most of you weren’t rich, world class athletes that spent half of your time on the road.

The O’s had to decide where to send Bundy after spring training and while it looks like Hi-A Frederick was the right answer in retrospect, you can irreparably harm a guy’s psyche by promoting him too fast, which wouldn’t happen at Delmarva. Crazier things have happened than a guy like Bundy getting hit around some, and Baltimore saw Bundy post-draft mostly in very short stints in controlled environments and they were taking his best pitch off the table. Sending and keeping him in Delmarva until now was a reasonable decision, even if it doesn’t make sense from a scouting perspective. Speeding up his time table by a month or two isn’t worth messing with the continuity of being with the same pitching coach, teammates and living situation in an important developmental stage.

Fans also seem confused about the low pitch count. I think he would’ve regained his command if he was allowed to go deeper in the game and that’s an example of one lesson where his pitch count may be keeping him from learning. That said, no one understands pitcher injuries enough to say anyone else is definitively wrong about them. Bundy is a franchise cornerstone type of arm that racked up some high pitch counts in high school and threw 100 mph in his first bullpen for big league camp in mid-February, so caution may be prudence in this situation. Reports suggest that Bundy may be promoted soon, and while he’ll likely be able to handle the challenge, there were reasons to start him out in low-A ball.

Outlook

Fans love comparisons and scouts are wary of them. A player like Bundy is about as unique as they come, so comparisons are even less instructive with him. I like to comp specific parts of a player’s game, so what I think Bundy’s stuff will be like is Josh Beckett or Felix Hernandez in their prime: sitting in the mid-90’s with a nasty slider/cutter, downer curve, hard change and good command—a true ace where everything is at least plus and it all comes together.



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Kiley McDaniel has worked in the scouting departments of the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates and has written for ESPN, among other outlets. Follow him on twitter for real-time thoughts on the players he’s seeing and hacky attempts at humor.


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YP
Guest
YP
4 years 2 months ago

are the present/future numbers reversed?

YP
Guest
YP
4 years 2 months ago

for the fastball, I mean.

YP
Guest
YP
4 years 2 months ago

NM, I missed the last portion. Just ignore this comment.

Jeff Reese
Member
4 years 2 months ago

Bundy threw a cutter for me at Hagerstown on Sunday too. Fantastic pitch (at the 7:22 mark): http://youtu.be/fsdK7cQ3AtE

John
Guest
John
4 years 2 months ago

Great video! Thanks.

He has virtually perfect mechanics. Though I still have some questions with what kind of supplementation that body is getting.

Nats Fan
Member
Nats Fan
4 years 2 months ago

Most Bundy’s prefer light beer!

Romogenized Melk
Guest
Romogenized Melk
4 years 2 months ago

Awesome analysis, thank you.

GTW
Member
GTW
4 years 2 months ago

Reports from the team have said they’ll cap Bundy around 125 innings this year. They’ve started him off slow so he’ll be able to go deeper in games against better competition and still be able to pitch all year instead of being shut down early.

Joel
Guest
Joel
4 years 2 months ago

They actually gave him the choice of starting out of the gate pitching 5 IP/G and being shut down early or building up his innings to go al year and he chose the latter.

John
Guest
John
4 years 2 months ago

The hip turn is really incredible. Reminds me some of Neftali Feliz.

Jack Nugent
Guest
4 years 2 months ago

This is an example of why gauging a young player’s mental makeup is so important. The O’s could have recognized early on that Bundy is just better than the league he’s in, and I guess I can’t think of any reason the young man wouldn’t welcome a promotion. Sure, he’s young, but he’s a first-round pick that was given millions of dollars to become a professional baseball player. Professionals in this industry are ready to relocate for the sake of a promotion.

Jeff V.
Guest
Jeff V.
4 years 2 months ago

Promoted to Frederick.

robby
Guest
robby
4 years 2 months ago

Tim Britton @TBritton_Projo

Orioles promoted Dylan Bundy to High-A. He will start against Salem on Saturday.

so much for their thinking of keeping his psyche right.

dch
Guest
dch
4 years 2 months ago

ETA in the majors? 2013? 2014?

Jim
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Jim
4 years 2 months ago

I would say 2014 is a safer bet, but he may get some time as a September call up if the Orioles can somehow compete next year.

baty
Guest
baty
4 years 2 months ago

He’s going to have to be amazing and catch on at each level quickly to get up that fast. Right now he’s facing an A- lineup one time through. Logically he’s moving at a much slower pace, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baltimore rush him the closer he gets.

Nic
Guest
Nic
4 years 2 months ago

Rotowire has him at 2013.

Kevin
Member
4 years 2 months ago

I wrote up his last start for Low A Delmarva on Sunday. I’m not a scout so it’s not as “scouty” as this piece, but I think you can get a good feel for his outing.

http://eutawstreetblues.blogspot.com/2012/05/dylan-bundy-sunday-in-hagerstown.html

Steve A
Guest
Steve A
4 years 2 months ago

I don’t know about others, but I feel like he opens up too much and stays back too much. Usually unless there is a change in mechanics or the pitcher is C.C. Sabathia’s size this leads to arm problems down the road. Think Rich Harden or Strasburg.

henry
Guest
henry
4 years 2 months ago

the only qualm i have is that he slows down his arm too fast. he doesn’t follow through quite enough, but everything else i see is just about perfect.

Hoof
Guest
Hoof
4 years 2 months ago

Beckett was the name that came to my mind first as I was reading the report.

baty
Guest
baty
4 years 2 months ago

He’s basically just getting exercise at this point. Not only is he facing tremendously weak competition, but he’s not experiencing hitter adjustments by at most facing a handful of hitters twice in the same game. Doubly easy. Seems like a great way to derail a kid when they throw a larger workload and stronger competition at him simultaneously if he continues breezing through these guys much longer.

Kevin
Member
4 years 2 months ago

He got promoted to High A Frederick yesterday.

John
Guest
John
4 years 2 months ago

Arm action is fair. Stabs in the back w/out a full arm swing. It’s obviously nitpicking but I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve seen either.

Antonio Bananas
Guest
Antonio Bananas
4 years 2 months ago

I think he needs a nickname. If he’s from the south somewhere, he could be “crocodile Bundy”, because of his muscular frame he could be “King Kong Bundy”.

We need a section dedicated to nicknames.

Infield Fly
Guest
Infield Fly
4 years 14 hours ago
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