This is not the first time that I’ve gone out of my way to see a top pitching prospect. Uhhh, yes…you could point to me heading out to Reading to see Gerrit Cole last night, but I did get a chance to head out to Syracuse to see Stephen Strasburg two years ago as well.
So this isn’t a new thing for me. This isn’t going to turn into Josh Norris’ blog…which I enjoy reading because, like I’ve tried to do for the past few days, I get to see guys who I might not get a chance to see otherwise, even if it is only on video. But I was live for Dylan Bundy’s start in Wilmington tonight, and I walked away very impressed. VERY impressed.
Amazes me that a kid that age — he’s a 19-year-old kid that Baltimore took out of high school with the fourth overall pick last year — is that polished. Far superior to Gerrit Cole in that sense…who was taken three picks ahead of him in that same draft.
Sadly, an “end of the world” type thunderstorm that sent members of the tarp crew skidding on the ground limited Bundy’s outing to just 2 2/3 innings. 32 pitches. That’s it. That’s all I got. Might be all I needed. His curveball was absolutely unreal. The video of him facing Orlando Calixte has got me more Twitter replies than anything since the Derek Jeter “Captain America” photo from last year…and for good reason. Calixte buckled. Absolutely buckled at a true 12-6 curveball that comes across the plate at 75 MPH. Bundy’s fastball was good, but wasn’t overpowering. He sat at 95-96 MPH the entire night, which is still obviously impressive…but not the real high 90’s gas he’s capable of.
Unlike Cole’s outing, I got to do some actual reporter work here as well. For starters, I spoke to Frederick Keys catcher Joe Oliveira before the game about Bundy…
“He’s got a great arm and good mechanics. He keeps the ball down and all his pitches are sharp. He really locates, and that’s a tribute to his good mechanics and his mindset out there.”
“He’s clearly a step above everybody else with his stuff. Basically, with his pitches, you can call anything in any count and it’ll probably work. You have to make him throw every pitch. He can get up there and probably throw fastballs and get by hitters, but you want to make him develop all his pitches and keep everything sharp.”
“He throws a fastball, a curveball and a changeup. The fastball is obviously mid to upper 90’s and electric. It kind of jumps on you, and he locates it pretty well. His curveball is like a 12-6, sharp breaker. His changeup is probably upper 80’s to low 90’s with some good two-seam movement on it.”
“When he’s on, the ball is down. Hitters can’t touch him when the ball is down. He runs into trouble when he gets up a few times, but that’s my job to get him right back down to where he can get back.”
“When he first got here, there was a big emphasis on using all his pitches. I guess in Delmarva, it was all fastballs. Up here, we’re using more of his pitches. They kind of just tell me to mix everything up. I do that with all the pitchers, so I kind of treat him the same just like he had normal stuff in terms of all his pitches.”
“His pitch count is continuing to build, they have him on a strict program. We’re getting closer and closer to move up his pitches. It’s not in my control and I don’t look that far into it. I just try to do the best job I can while he’s out there and when they pull him out, it’s not my decision.”
And then, I was able to chat with Bundy after the game. It was myself and a MASN reporter from Baltimore with him…that’s it. I have a feeling the days of only two guys chatting with him after games will be over soon. In any event, here are some selected nuggets from that conversation as well. He was arguably more impressive off the field than on it…to think of the level of maturity this kid has at the age of 19 in his approach, it’s unreal.
“I felt all right. I had a walk when I was getting a little two-seam happy. I was trying to get in on him because I knew he’d be cheating fastball, so I was trying to get him to roll over on a ground ball on a two-seam. But other than that, this was probably the best stuff I’ve had all year.”
“They told me I had 100 pitches to work with and no limit on innings, so I was excited to go six, seven, eight, nine innings. You can’t really play with the weather like that.”
“My curveball was there the whole game. I threw three or four curveballs and left one high for a strikeout, but it was the hitters decision to swing, he thought it was going to break more than it did. The changeup, I only threw one I think.”
“It’s definitely difficult (being limited on innings). I’m a competitive pitcher out there just like any other guy in our locker room. I’ll always want to go seven, eight or a complete game. But that’s part of their program with an innings limit. Next year, I probably won’t have an innings limit.”
“It’s their decision, but I feel like I’m ready (for Double-A), especially getting my curveball back where it’s supposed to be. Now it’s just…I had one walk in 2 2/3 innings, which isn’t really very good at all for me. I’m definitely ready for that.”
“I’ve had trouble with (my curveball) pretty much all year. I had it for about four or five starts in Delmarva and kind of started losing it when I got to Frederick. But it’s all about throwing it just as hard as my fastball.”
“I’ll throw (my cutter) two or three times in the bullpen. I’ll throw it on flat ground all the time, because I know I want to have it when I get to the big leagues. To have a fourth pitch is huge, just because with the two-seamer, they don’t want me to throw the two-seamer, but I’ve been throwing it in the minor leagues right now just because it’s an easy ball to get groundouts on and swing and misses when you keep and low and inside in the zone to righties. Two-seamer and cutter are my groundout pitches with guys on base. The cutter is for lefties. But it’s part of their plan, they don’t want me to throw it because it supposedly it slows down my fastball. I threw harder with my cutter.”
“I had that one walk in 2 2/3 innings. I can’t be doing that in the big leagues in 2 2/3 innings. Walks kill you, every free base is going to hurt you a little bit. Other than that, I’d like more consistency, but tonight I feel like I had that consistency of all three pitches.”
“My first start in Frederick, I had all three pitches too, I was just kind of giving up fastball up in the zone hits and bloop hits. Other than that, I feel like I’m better now than I was in my middle starts in Frederick where I had four innings, three innings.”
“You don’t want to come out of the game like that (tonight) because of rain. You don’t want to cut off at eight innings just because you’re at 100 pitches. It’s never about pitch count for me. The Orioles feel like it’s about pitch count, but for me it’s all about if your elbow’s dropping because you’re tired. Then that’s when they take you out. They take you out when you’re tired, not when you’re at 100 pitches.”
“(Bad weather) I was trying to hurry up, maybe that’s why I walked the guy, just because I knew that weather was coming and there was a 50-50 chance they were going to call it. I was trying to get that out real quick and get through at least three innings.”
“(Big leagues this year) Definitely (I’d be ready). I feel that’s my competitive side speaking. I feel like I could go up there and as long I keep the fastball low in the zone and located it in and out and if I got my curveball, which I feel like I do now, I think I could handle it up there.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com