The two names are attached in most conversations. A reporter mentions Dylan Bundy, and Kevin Gausman is soon referenced. And it works the other way, too. Can't have one without the other.
Both pitchers were chosen by the Orioles with the fourth overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft - Bundy in 2011 out of Owasso (Okla.) High School and Gausman in 2012 out of LSU. They're the top pitching prospects in the organization, they're expected to begin the upcoming season at Double-A Bowie and they could join the Orioles' roster later this summer, depending on performance and the club's needs.
Though their personalities are vastly different - Bundy's the serious one with a strong aversion to junk food, Gausman's the playful one with an oversized sweet tooth - they're fast becoming friends, which is convenient when they're constantly linked together.
Bundy can do pushups all day. Gausman would rather peel the wrapper off one. Bundy can blow his fastball past hitters and make scouts drool all over their reports. Gausman can blow his fastball past hitters and make scouts drool all over their reports.
OK, they do have a few things in common. However ...
"I'd say we're pretty opposite," Gausman said yesterday during FanFest. "He's really kind of a health freak and I eat donuts. He's really a strong guy and I'm skinny. So we're really different, but we have a good relationship.
"We're real good friends. We stayed in touch during the offseason. We're just now starting to actually get to know each other."
In typical fashion, Bundy is the phenom of fewer words.
"We are a little bit different, but he's a great guy," Bundy said. "He's considered a friend to me and hopefully we can pitch a long time together."
That's the idea.
Bundy, 20, went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 23 games spread among low Single-A Delmarva, high Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. He walked 28 and struck out 119 in 103 2/3 innings. Gausman, 22, went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five starts at short-season Single-A Aberdeen and Frederick. He walked one and struck out 13 in 15 innings.
Bundy got to the majors first, following up a surprise promotion by the Orioles last season by tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances.
"I got the nerves out of there," Bundy said. "My legs were shaking in Boston. And my debut in Baltimore, I was still a little nervous. Wild at times. But I think it's going to help going forward."
Both pitchers share a similar goal this year - get to Camden Yards as quickly as possible.
"My expectations are to be in the big leagues," Bundy said. "Everybody's expectations are to be in the big leagues. Everybody goes to camp looking to break camp.
"Anything is realistic if you work hard enough and if you execute your pitches just like everybody should in big league camp."
And if he's assigned to a minor league affiliate in April?
"I'd be disappointed, but it would make me work just that much harder to get to the big leagues sooner," he said. "I want to be there for a long time."
Now it's Gausman's turn. Pitching in the majors is the carrot that also dangles in front of him, though Bundy is more apt to take a bite.
"Yeah, definitely," Gausman said. "Obviously, that's my goal. That's something that I'm going to push myself to get. But I'm just going to work hard every day and wherever they put me at the beginning of the year, I'm just going to try to win ballgames."
As for his mindset in spring training, Gausman said, "Just show the coaches who I am, what I can bring to the team. Only a couple of them have actually seen me pitch, so that's going to be something a little bit different. Just kind of interact with them and talk baseball. Getting to know my teammates, interact with them, play catch with different guys. It's just a relationship you build with your teammates. You can't explain it. Just kind of talking with them about baseball and getting to know each other is really going to help later on."
Gausman saw Bundy and top position prospect Manny Machado get the call last summer. Age didn't matter. Affiliate didn't matter. And it encourages him.
"It's really exciting for me that they don't really care how many years you've spent in the minors," he said. "Other organizations will bring you pretty slow. I feel like if they think you're ready and you have talent, they're going to bring you up."
Maybe in 2013. Maybe with Bundy.
It seems like a natural pairing.