Dylan Bundy closes in on his pro debut

SALISBURY, Md. - He may be a first-round draft pick. He has a ton of talent and the scouts rave about him. Orioles fans are expecting nothing less than to see Dylan Bundy in the orange and black one day, dominating American League hitters.

If he is feeling any pressure to live up to all those expectations, Bundy was not letting on yesterday here during the media day for the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds.

"I really don't feel any pressure at all. I just like to go about my business the way I do: Practice and work hard every day to get better as a player and pitcher as well," Bundy said.

The 19-year-old right-hander is known for taking this game pretty seriously, but he flashed an easy smile and seemed to very much be enjoying his first day at Perdue Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

Tomorrow night, when the Shorebirds open their season in Asheville, N.C., Bundy will make his long-awaited pro debut. He's expected to throw three innings against the Tourists as Delmarva begins its 17th season.

He said his expectations for his debut season are pretty clear-cut.

"To be a better pitcher than I am at the beginning of the year, I think that's every pitcher's goal. To get out of the season healthy and feeling great. It's a blessing to play baseball as my career and my job. I'm fortunate to have that," he said.

Bundy knows he will have to make some adjustments from his high school days in Oklahoma.

"Really just need to get used to all the travel. We'll have some 12- and 13-hour bus rides and also throwing every fifth or sixth day is going to be a little bit different from high school. In high school, I got a two-week break from high school ball to competitive ball in the summer. That two-week break is now something I am not going to get," Bundy said.

The Shorebirds will go with a six-man rotation to begin the year with Tim Berry, Parker Bridwell, Tyler Wilson, Eduardo Rodriguez and Miguel Chalas following Bundy to the mound for the first six games.

Bundy began spring training in major league camp as a player on the O's 40-man roster. He enjoyed rubbing elbows with the big league pitchers he hopes to join one day and he got into one spring game, pitching a scoreless inning March 6 against Boston.

"I learned a lot of little things from those guys up there," Bundy said. "Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, I talked to those guys every day. Day in, day out, I was sitting right next to Arrieta, so I got to learn a lot from him. Just little things on and off the field."

Bundy credits his dad, Denver, for a maturity level that the Orioles feel is one not usually seen by a player just out of high school.

"I guess that comes from my dad. Me and him practice interviews. He sent me to Texas when I was 15, 16 years old to live with a host family and play baseball on my own for three months of the summer," Bundy said. "I kind of had to get used to it, grow up a little bit."

He only pitched about 10 innings total in major and minor league games this spring. Despite a lack of time on the mound, he says he is ready to start his first pro season on Thursday night.

"I feel good right now, I feel like I'm ready to go. I think they have done a good job planning it out. I think we'll have a great team. We've bonded well together and all know each other. We've played together a little bit now, should be a fun time," Bundy said.

You can to listen to Bundy at Shorebirds media day on the audio clip below.

Dylan Bundy with reporters at Delmarva Shorebirds media day by smelewski

By the way, be checking this blog later today when it will have a Norfolk dateline on it as I report on the Orioles-Tides exhibition game at Harbor Park. I'll post Buck Showalter's pregame quotes and more from there in a few hours.

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