SALISBURY, Md. - You had to figure Dylan Bundy might pitch Single-A Delmarva's season opening game and that is exactly what he will do when he takes the mound on Thursday night in Asheville, N.C. for the Shorebirds in his professional debut for the Orioles organization.
There was a lot of speculation about where Bundy would begin his minor league career and he will start right here in Salisbury with the Shorebirds in the South Atlantic League.
"I'm excited to get here and start my career as a minor leaguer and hopefully get to the big leagues as soon as I can," Bundy said amidst the sunshine today at Perdue Stadium.
How about his goals for early in the season?
"Just keep staying healthy, pitch well of course, make all my outings and get all my innings in."
Bundy is expected to be limited to three-inning outings in his first few Delmarva starts and is expected to pitch 120-130 innings on the season. I asked him if he will be able to use all his pitches in just three innings and how he will approach those first few games.
"I've heard rumors they want me to work on my changeup and I need to work on my changeup to prepare for higher levels. Just having another pitch will be great. So far, that is all I know," he said.
"Three innings, you mainly just try to use two pitches early and second time through the order mix in your other pitches to keep them off balance. You'll probably see me working on my changeup."
Among several young and interesting prospects to track on this Delmarva team in 2012 is infielder Nicky Delmonico, drafted in round six last June out of Farragut High in Knoxville, Tenn. He was a career .450 hitter in high school.
There are three true third baseman on this team, counting Delmonico, Jason Esposito and Connor Narron and Delmonico expects to see time at three different infield positions.
"I've worked also at second base in spring training and I also played a lot at first, so I think third, first and second. Since I was little, I've played all over the diamond. Some players when they switch positions it can throw off their offense, but I think I can handle it well."
Delmonico did some catching in high school but said the Orioles have not indicated that he will do any catching this year.
Mychal Givens began last year as the Shorebirds second baseman alongside Manny Machado at shortstop. Givens will begin this season starting at short for Delmarva and wants to improve on the .195 average he had here last April and May before going to short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
The Orioles second-round pick in 2009, the 21-year-old Givens said he gained some confidence playing winter ball in Australia and in 41 games for Perth, he batted .352 with 13 doubles, five homers and 18 RBIs with an OPS of .934.
"It was great," he said of playing there. "I hit well in that league and it helped me to prepare against different pitchers. There was some good talent in that league. It will help me now stay more relaxed and loose at the plate."
After his early-season struggles here last year, Givens went on to hit .279 in 74 games with Aberdeen and then post the impressive winter ball stats which he hopes has his bat ready to break out this year with the Shorebirds.
Delmarva is hosting the nationally fourth-ranked Salisbury University Sea Gulls squad here tonight in a seven-inning exhibition game before the Birds open their 17th season on Thursday night at 7:05. Delmarva's 16-year run as an Orioles affiliate is the second longest running affiliation of any South Atlantic League team with its parent organization.
Later tonight: Check back here for some details on tonight's game from Perdue Stadium and you can also follow me on Twitter @masnsteve. In the morning I'll have more quotes and an audio interview posted here with Bundy.