Bundy wows observers during bullpen session
Pitching prospect draws praise from players, coaching staff
SARASOTA, Fla. -- It's not often you see a crowd assembled to watch an early-spring bullpen session on the back fields, and it's rarer still for that marquee event to involve a 19-year-old wearing uniform No. 82.
But nothing about Dylan Bundy, the Orioles' top pitching prospect, is normal, a fact evidenced again by Wednesday's display, during which Bundy put on an impressive show. Bundy, Baltimore's first-round pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, threw to catcher Brian Ward at what he estimated to be about "90-92 percent," an effort that still produced frequent loud pops from the catcher's mitt and one that left little doubt about the validity of the scouting reports on Bundy.
"He wasn't even trying to throw hard; he can throw a lot harder than that," Ward said of Bundy, who has been clocked at 100 mph. "It was a heavy ball, it was firm. He's real polished."
While Bundy admitted he had some nerves during his first bullpen session Monday -- which was closed to the media because it started with director of pitching development Rick Peterson's biomechanical analysis -- he was the picture of poise Wednesday as part of the last group of pitchers to throw.
"The biggest thing that's going to help him is he's got a good head on his shoulders," said catcher Matt Wieters, who was among the group that lingered to watch Bundy and Steve Johnson finish up their workout.
"[Bundy is] just sort of going about his business in camp, trying to get better. And that arm ... so many things can happen in baseball, but his arm and his head on his shoulders, he's got a good chance."
"He had command off all his pitches and knew exactly what he was doing with them. [He was throwing to] both sides of the plate," added Ward, who also singled out Bundy's composure. "You don't really see that from a 19-year-old."
Bundy estimated he threw between six and eight bullpen sessions in Oklahoma before arriving in Sarasota for his first Major League camp, and his locker is situated right next to Jake Arrieta, with Zach Britton and Brian Matusz nearby. As the youngest player in camp, Bundy also has the disadvantage of being right next to the refrigerator holding drinks on his left, a fact that -- like everything else -- he seems to be taking in stride.
"It's just baseball," Bundy said of adjusting to the big league atmosphere. "It's a bigger locker room with bigger names in it. I mean, it's the same stuff as high school basically, except it's a lot bigger, lot faster game and a lot bigger people."
Regarded as the best high school pitcher in the 2011 Draft, Bundy went 11-0 with a 0.20 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 71 innings as a senior at Owasso (Okla.) High School. Signed to a Major League deal, Bundy automatically got an invite to Major League Spring Training as a member of the Orioles' 40-man roster. And while his stay in camp doesn't figure to be long, particularly since Baltimore will want to monitor him closely in his first season as a pro, his presence has already generated buzz in an otherwise sleepy first few days of camp.
"It's part of the job description," manager Buck Showalter said of the media attention given to Bundy. "It's not like Dylan slipped in here under the radar screen or anything. It's a story. I understand it for the right reasons, because he's well thought of, the potential there. But there's a lot of bridges to cross."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.