Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
Frederick Keyes (Baltimore Orioles)
Born: November 15, 1992 in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Weight: 210 LBS
Comparable MLB Players: Josh Beckett, John Smoltz, Chad Billingsley, Jaret Wright
Dylan Bundy is a superstar. Selected by the Baltimore Orioles, fourth overall in last year’s MLB Draft, Bundy has the raw talent to be one of the best pitchers of his generation. He falls just short of Stephen Strasburg– that may be true– but considering Strasburg’s status as the most dominant young pitcher in the game, a close second-place is lofty praise. Bundy was most talented player in the 2011 Draft and he’s the best pitcher to sign a pro contract out of high school in at least a decade. Pro teams are leery of drafting high school pitchers with their top picks, and if it wasn’t for his gaudy asking price and some concerns about his brutal work-out regiment, Bundy would’ve heard his name called out of the top spot.
Bundy put together a legendary amateur career during the four seasons he split between Sperry and then Owasso high school. The Oklahoma native packed his trophy room with scads of awards, records and accolades. His older brother, Bobby Bundy, who signed with the Orioles as an 8th round pick in 2008, was awarded the Oklahoma Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year during his own senior season. Dylan not only outperformed his very talented brother, but pretty much outshined any pitcher in high school baseball history. He set the mark as the first player to take home honors as Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year three times. And, in a draft class packed with a wealth of flashy high school arms– including Archie Bradley, Taylor Guerrieri, Daniel Norris, Henry Owens and Jose Fernandez– he was one of only two pitchers named first-team to all six 2011 All-American rosters. Bundy also became the first baseball player to win the Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year after posting an 11-0 record with a 0.30 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 71 innings pitched as a senior.
Bundy capped his amateur career off by leading Owasso to the Class 6A State Finals for the second season in a row. Though pitch count limitations kept him off the mound, and the Rams would eventually fall victim to Archie Bradley’s incredible fourteen-strikeout performance, Bundy still graduated with an extravagant resume. He posted a 44-3 career record and racked up nearly 600 strikeouts while managing a sub 1.00 ERA. As a third baseman, he also demonstrated elite tools at the plate and in the field, batting a monster .448/.586/.895 and flashing some impressive leather during his senior season. Beyond the glitter that Gatorade awarded him, he also earned 2011′s USA Today National Player of the Year, Louisville Slugger Player of the Year, Baseball America High School Player of the Year and a NHSCA Baseball Player of the Year award.
As a pro, Bundy has continued to outshine his peers. He officially became an Oriole last August when he inked a big league deal that included a $4 million signing bonus and he hasn’t looked back since. He made his highly anticipated professional debut this Spring, pitching with the Sally League’s Delmarva Shorebirds. At just 19 years old, Bundy proceeded to tear through prospect-laden lineups effortlessly. He opened his career with thirteen no-hit innings-spanning four starts– and totaled thirty shut-out innings of five-hit baseball before Baltimore promoted him to the Carolina League at the end of May. He hasn’t been quite as untouchable as a member of the Frederick Keyes, but his 3.42 ERA and 25/8 K/BB ratio across 23 2/3 innings is still very impressive for any pitching prospect, much less a nineteen-year-old.
Bundy is a rare athlete for a pitcher. Built like an NFL linebacker, his sloped shoulders and square, stone-sturdy trunk afford him extraordinary power and balance. In the weight room he squats 500 pounds and can leg press a herculean 1,200 pounds. His workout routine may have scared off some throwback gurus who still prefer their pitcher’s shoulders soft and well-rested, but it’s exactly the type of routine that allows the modern hurler to reach his full potential. He ate and exercised like a professional athlete by the time he was in middle school and he maintains nutritional discipline that would make a Mr. Olympia proud. His rigorous training and lifting schedule is built off of the National Pitching Association’s new model, developed by Todd Durkin and Dr. Lew Yocum and endorsed by Nolan Ryan. He focuses on building overall body fitness and flexibility. His arm is durable and powerful, with uniformly developed rotator muscles and stable elbows.
Similar to his Tulsa-area counterpart, Archie Bradley, Bundy was also a very accomplished high school football player. Though he chose to concentrate on baseball after transferring over to Owasso, there’s little doubt that the Texas-commit could’ve had a very successful college career as a quarterback/linebacker. Built like a football player, his leg and core strength affords him unbelievable power generation and he as a surplus of quick-twitch muscle. More importantly, his remarkable body control and coordination have helped him develop balanced and clean pitching mechanics.
Standing a shade over 6′ and weighing in at a burly 210 pounds, Bundy’s frame is pure power. Though many scouts prefer pitchers who are built like NBA small forwards– long and lean– Bundy’s body is a perfect fit for the job. He’s built like a fire hydrant with a stout base, a powerful core and a barrel chest. While he’s muscular, he’s lean and flexible, with acrobatic body control and incredible stamina. His stature allows him to stay compact throughout his delivery, and will help him develop his command and consistency.
For any age group, Bundy’s delivery is a thing of beauty. He begins with free and easy hands, and a nice n’ short weight transfer to the back side. He starts his arm motion by dropping the ball into the bucket, allowing him to accelerate quicker and catch up to his body. His minor inverted “L” is fundamentally sound, as he keeps his elbow below shoulder-level as he circles the ball up to the firing position, showing the seams to the third baseman. He manages to avoid adding any unnecessary length in his arm action with a sharp and direct arc toward his left pants pocket. He stays over the rubber while loading, and keeps his head over his belt buckle during his wind-up. He drives through the ball with a clear path towards home plate. He drops low, leading with his hip before extending his heel forward, and explodes toward his target, following a straight line. He uses his entire body to generate incredible arm speed, quietly, and without any violent motions. His arm action is clean and he gets full extension from a just-below classic over-hand slot. He employs his core to generate tremendous torque. Like a young Roger Clemens, he shows great shoulder/hip separation, arching his back as he rotates his pitching elbow towards the batter. He releases the ball with shoulders squared-up and his head balanced and facing home plate. There’s some recoil in his follow-throw, but he still finishes in perfect balance. Bundy does a great job of repeating his fluid mechanics, and maintains his release from pitch to pitch.
Bundy’s fastball is his bread and butter, and it rivals that of the MLB’s elite. During his senior season at Owasso he hit 100 MPH on the radar gun multiple times, leaving pro scouts astonished. He throws both a four and a two-seamer with consistent mid 90′s velocity, maintaining his power throughout his starts. His four-seamer has visible rise and makes an audible hissing sound that’s straight out of Nolan Ryan lore. When he’s loose, he sits firmly in the 93-95 MPH range, and he can pump it up to 97-98 MPH with the flip of a switch. His two-seamer shows heavy sink, and batters have fits trying to loft it. His fluid delivery, easy hip rotation and quick arm adds extra explosiveness and deception to his fastball as well, making it extremely difficult for both right-handed and left-handed batters to pick up. While he is capable of hitting triple digits, the most important aspect of Bundy’s repertoire is his ability to command 95 MPH heat to both sides of the plate. He works effectively in all four quadrants of the zone already.
The fact that Bundy has developed a knock-out curveball to pair with an unhittable fastball, is just unfair. He snaps off his breaking ball with 80 MPH velocity, and gets heavy downer break. More of a power slurve than a true curveball, Bundy fires the pitch with maximum effort out of an arm-slot just below that of his fastball. He stays on top of the curveball, and does a nice job of throwing it out of a fastball tunnel, disguising the spin and offspeed velocity. His feel for the pitch is still fairly raw, though he can get it over the plate for called strikes. For now, it’s a nasty chase-pitch, but it should rate plus-plus with more work.
Bundy’s changeup is a relatively new addition to his game arsenal, but it already shows at least average potential. He mixes it in as a fourth pitch, and as a true change-of-pace when he gets to the latter innings of his starts. He generally maintains nice arm speed but he can still get in to trouble occasionally, when he overthrows it. The pitch is fairly straight, with a little bit of run to his arm-side, but he does a good job of staying on top of it and keeping it in the lower third of the strikezone. He throws it for strikes, but will still occasionally squeeze it too hard and lose the ball in the dirt. His other offerings exempt him from any real need to develop his changeup, but his feel for it shows enough promise that it should be a very solid big league offering.
For a teenager with a premium fireball especially, Bundy’s secondary pitches are extraordinarily developed. To go with a knock-out curveball and a solid changeup, Bundy also throws a cutter that is progressing in to one of the single best pitches in the minors. His cut fastball saws off bats with 89-92 MPH velocity and nasty disappearing break, down-and-in on left-handed batters. His bone-crushing grip, full extension and over-hand follow-through adds movement that resembles a tight, biting slider. He mixes the pitch in with his 2-seamer vs. both righties and lefties to keep the ball out of the air, but the pitch is usually so effective that batters simply can’t touch it.
Thus far, in terms of intangibles, Bundy appears to have pro baseball knocked. He’s a hard-nosed, blue-collar worker with an unwavering dedication to his craft. He’s in tremendous shape and he strives to improve his game on a day to day basis. He’s a smart pitcher with a stone-cold nerve and a calm demeanor on the mound. Pressure doesn’t appear to bother him in the least. His cool disposition is indicative not only in his ability to pitch well with men on base, but also in the larger picture . He’s had no trouble dealing with the wave of attention he’s received on and off the field since turning pro. A high-character player, Bundy is receptive to coaching and handles criticism well (the little that he receives). He has received high praise for his down-to-earth, humble character, and his teammates gravitate towards him for his confidence and leadership qualities.
To complete the ace package, Bundy also boasts impressive command. His body control and his ability to repeat his polished delivery help him take charge of the strikezone. His fastball command is already big league ready, and he does a great job working all four quadrants of the zone. He throws quality strikes and keeps the ball away from the barrel better than any pitcher in the low minors. Opposing batters struggle to drive any of his offerings with authority, and he rarely wastes any of his pitches.
No matter how talented, most teenage pitchers have a long list of things to work on with their coaches. Bundy on the other hand is already a very complete pitcher. Besides his uncanny athletic gifts, he’s mature and mentally strong. Beyond continuing to do everything right, he really just needs to improve his command and feel for pitching. Judging by the tools he’s blessed with, both of those aspects should come with more time and work. Other than that, he needs to address only minor questions about his future.
In order to reach his full potential as a big league ace, Bundy will need to stay healthy. Like any pitcher, Bundy is an injury risk. His power repertoire puts incredible stress on his arm. The price of premium arm-speed is a monster amount of torque on his young shoulder. He uses his entire body to generate his velocity with a manageable amount of effort and clean mechanics. So, that should help him stay on the mound, but he will have to continue to focus on efficiency. For a pitcher with such nasty stuff, he could stand to be more aggressive. His plus command is often victimized by his tendency to fall behind in the count while toying with opposing hitters, and trying to rack up strikeouts. Once he moves up the latter, more hitters will be able to catch up with a 98 MPH 3-2 fastball down the heart of the plate.
Bundy’s command over his offspeed pitches still needs some time to mature. He’s very advanced for his age, but the Orioles should be careful not to push him through the minor leagues too quickly. Batters at higher levels will be more apt to lay-off his curveball unless he demonstrates the ability to throw it for strikes more consistently. Honing his changeup isn’t absolutely necessary, but it could help his stamina and durability once his pitch count limitations are relaxed and he has to battle more advanced hitters.
Bundy is one of the most gifted young pitchers professional baseball has ever seen. He’s a toolsy athlete with all of the necessary ingredients for super stardom. His fastball is one of the best in the game, and all three of his secondary pitches could rate plus or better once he slots in to the Orioles’ rotation. His command is extraordinary given his experience-level and first-rate velocity, and his feel for pitching is beyond his years. He’s blessed with makeup and intangibles to boot and he should have no trouble handling a mentally rigorous craft. In the Tommy John era, Bundy’s workout regiment and square, solid frame should help him stay healthy.
For now, Bundy will polish some rough edges in his game and will look to finish the season in the International League. He was recently selected to represent the Orioles at the All-Star Futures Game alongside fellow Orioles top prospect Manny Machado. If he develops as planned, he could push his way in to the Orioles’ rotation next May, well before he’s legally able to drink. He has the makings of a Josh Beckett-type power pitcher, with big strikeout totals and a clutch backbone.