Dylan Bundy’s Orioles debut for the Delmarva Shorebirds versus the Asheville Tourists, a Rockies affiliate, marked the start of a fourth season for me scouting prospects in the South Atlantic League. In previous years, highly ranked pitching prospects have come and gone, bringing with them reportedly unhittable “stuff.” In most cases, those arms never live up to advanced billing as the prospect hype does not match performance on the field. With Dylan Bundy, his ability may have been undersold, as exemplified by the lack of major media at his first professional start.
Video after the jump
In the first inning, Bundy peppered the strike zone with fastballs in the 95-98 MPH range. Four-seamers exploded with late life up in the zone, while his two-seamer showed late, darting action to the front of the plate. Asheville hitters were completely overwhelmed by both fastballs, which left scouts looking at each other confused over what had just occurred.
A veteran scout next to me commented, “He (Bundy) may not need to throw a breaking ball the entire start.” He followed up that comment by saying, “His fastball velocity is too easy. Did you see him throw in the outfield before the game? I’ve never seen a pitcher throw so hard from so far away.”
The good times continued into the second inning as I moved down the third base line to collect video and view the young right-hander from a side angle. Bundy threw more pitches in the second inning, causing me to wonder about his fastball command and if it was an issue worth mentioning.
When focusing on counts and accompanying pitch types/locations, it became obvious Bundy was pitching with purpose. On a 1-2 count, he threw a two-seam fastball low-and-away to waste the pitch and followed that up with a four-seamer above the letters in an attempt to put the hitter away. Instead of pitching by the book, Bundy worked the sequence backwards, but definitely had a plan.
The third inning was a repeat of the first two as Bundy worked another perfect inning. He once again featured the fastball, but began throwing more off-speed pitches to simply get his work in. Still dominant, he continued to rack up the strikeouts against the seven-through-nine hitters who happened to be the best hitting prospects on the Asheville roster in shortstop Trevor Story, catcher Will Swanner and designated hitter Rosell Herrera.
Beyond the fastball, Bundy’s curveball was a 77-78 MPH offering which became tighter each time it was thrown. With sharp, late 12/6 action, combined with excellent arm speed, the pitch has the potential to be a plus offering. In such a short stint, his struggling to command the few curves thrown early was understandable. However, his throwing more of them in the third showed just how quickly Bundy was able to make in-game adjustments.
At 83-86 MPH, Bundy’s changeup also improved throughout the outing. He left the pitch up in the zone early and was staying a touch tall on his follow through. Additionally, adrenaline can often lead to a pitcher overthrowing the changeup early. By the third inning, Bundy had ironed out his command of the pitch and even doubled up on it to Rosell Herrera. Herrera did have the hardest hit ball of the day off of a change, but it was laced foul towards the bullpen mounds. At its best, the pitch features heavy drop, nearly identical arm action to his fastball and creates a distinct third velocity for Bundy to pitch from. At present, it appears to be his third best offering, but that’s certainly not a knock considering the strength of the rest of his arsenal.
Beyond Bundy’s stuff, the young Oklahoman conducts himself as if he’s already in a Baltimore Orioles uniform. An infielder’s dream, Bundy works quickly – sometimes only needing four to six seconds between pitches. In some respects, Bundy could be likened to a human pitching machine as he presents as the most efficient pitcher I’ve scouted in terms of pitching mechanics and expending energy on the mound.
FanGraphs chatters frequently ask how the Baltimore Orioles are going to “mess Bundy up” considering the lack of production from what was once considered the deepest collection of starting pitching prospects in the game in Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Brian Matusz. However, this is a new regime in Baltimore and the Bundy family has made it abundantly clear that his intense training regimen will continue to be a pillar of his development as a pitcher. After watching him loosen up during pre-game, it appears as if the Orioles organization is not messing with a good thing at this point, which is quite progressive on its face.
In scouting Dylan Bundy, it was the first time I’ve truly left the park thinking, “I just watched a future ace.” With his already being in the top-10 overall in some prospect circles, his upward mobility is limited, but don’t be surprised if he finished 2012 as the top ranked pitching prospect in baseball with a legitimate shot at the number one prospect in baseball, period.