Dylan Bundy created quite a buzz for Orioles fans during the 2012 season. Bundy was the Orioles’ first-round pick in the 2011 draft, fourth overall. The right-handed pitcher from Oklahoma did not throw a pitch for the Orioles after signing late in August that season, but he burst on the scene right away when he finally made his minor league debut.
Bundy’s 2012 minor league numbers were good, to say the least — he had a 9-3 record, 2.08 ERA, and 119 strikeouts in 103.2 innings. He reached the Major Leagues by the end of the season, and finished two late season games for the Orioles, not allowing a run. Unfortunately, Bundy’s rise to big league stardom took a hit in 2013, as he required Tommy John surgery and missed the entire year.
Bundy returned to the mound towards the end of last season and threw only 41.1 innings before a lat strain shut him down in August. He posted a 3.27 ERA between Low-A Aberdeen and High-A Frederick. Bundy struggled slightly with Frederick with an elevated 4.78 ERA in 15.0 innings. Bundy’s biggest struggles when returning to the mound in 2014 were with secondary pitch command, especially his curveball. That is not uncommon for a pitcher recovering from surgery.
Things are looking good for Bundy so far this season with Double-A Bowie. The Orioles continue to gradually build up their prospect’s pitch count, as he has thrown only 12.0 innings over his four starts thus far in 2015. The most promising sign is an improved handle on his secondary pitches. In Bundy’s most recent start yesterday, he threw three perfect innings and struck out five.
The Orioles will take the kid-gloves off of Bundy at some point this season and allow him to pitch beyond the third inning. To date, the results have been very promising for the former number-two prospect in all of baseball. Bundy’s fastball is nearly back to where it was before surgery, and his secondary pitches are much sharper than they were in his brief return last year.
Even though Bundy has slid down the prospect rankings, the Orioles should still consider him a future ace if he can stay healthy. Given that potential, it makes sense for the Orioles to carefully monitor his development this season. A return to the Majors would be a surprise this year, as I do not think the Orioles would insert Bundy into their bullpen towards the end of the season. He needs to get in a full workload as a starter without being jerked around. Bundy’s return to the Majors will likely come in 2016. If his progress continues at its current rate, that return may include a spot in the Orioles’ starting rotation.