SALISBURY, Md. - At the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds media day this afternoon, Birds' manager Ryan Minor said Dylan Bundy will be his opening night starter Thursday at Asheville and is scheduled to pitch three innings in the club's South Atlantic League opener.
The Orioles' first-round pick from last year's draft has pitched sparingly so far in camp and will likely be limited to several outings around three innings or so early in the year with Delmarva.
"I think so," Minor said of the shorter, early outings for Bundy. "I think it's one of those things we are going to play it by ear. He's a high school kid, but he's a mature, physically strong high school kid. As a young arm that has never pitched in professional baseball, you do have to protect him a little bit.
"I think from our standpoint, we have to make sure he gets his innings and work and that he's still able to pitch in August. Some clubs shut down their high picks in August. We want to see him pitch there and see how it goes."
What he saw of the 19-year-old right-hander in Sarasota impressed Minor.
"From what I saw in spring training, he's going to be something to watch," he said.
The Shorebirds are expected to begin the season with a six-man rotation and Tim Berry and Parker Bridwell will follow Bundy to the mound on Friday and Saturday in the season-opening series. After that the Shorebirds are expected to go with Tyler Wilson, Eduardo Rodriguez and Miguel Chalas. Chalas will follow Bundy to the mound in Thursday's opener before making his starting debut in game six.
"This is my fifth year here and overall, this is probably the best group of arms I've seen in terms of arm strength and velocity and guys that can go out with good overall stuff. It's fun to know that going in, you have a chance to win every night," Minor, beginning his fifth season at Delmarva, said.
As for Bundy, who is scheduled to throw a bullpen session today, Minor said he has fit in very well with the rest of his club.
"He fits in like one of the guys. Part of it is having a brother in the system already. He kind of knows what to expect. He's very mature for his age and he's a guy that everybody likes. There will not be any issues with him. His work ethic and preparation stand out. He's a guy I've noticed that he prepares a little bit better and a little bit more than some of those guys that have been around longer. He knows what it takes to get himself ready."
Minor seems excited about the 2012 Shorebirds, a club that includes four of the O's top eight prospects as ranked by Baseball America with Bundy (No. 1) along with Parker Bridwell (No. 4), Nicky Delmonico (No. 6) and Jason Esposito (No. 8) on the roster.
"We've got a young group of guys compared to past years. We've got some guys that are athletic, some guys that were pretty high picks and are high up in the way the Orioles think about them. We're excited. We're going to be a club that will be exciting to watch compared to some past years," he said.
Here at Perdue Stadium tonight, Delmarva will host Division III Salisbury University in a seven-inning game.
Here is tonight's Shorebirds lineup:
CF - Glynn Davis
LF - John Ruettiger
3B - Jason Esposito
C - Wynston Sawyer
RF - Brenden Webb
DH - Gabriel Lino
1B - Nicky Delmonico
SS - Mychal Givens
2B - Sammie Starr
Jake Cowan will start on the mound for Delmarva, which is expected to use seven pitchers for one inning each against a nationally fourth-ranked Salisbury team with a 20-4 record.