In looking back on this past weekend, we saw the Orioles lose two of three against Kansas City. On the field, they’ve had better weekends, but if you look at what happened off the field at Camden Yards, the club had a pretty good few days.
I was lucky to be on hand for two events within a span of about 16 hours that may prove to have been a glimpse into a bright future for the Orioles.
I’m talking about Dylan Bundy taking a major step forward on a career path that will surely lead him to Camden Yards and Adam Jones signing a new six-year contract to remain an Oriole at least through 2018.
On Saturday night in Frederick, I watched Bundy make his Carolina League debut. This kid has been so good that some were actually disappointed in a pitching line that saw him give up two runs, including a homer, over five innings.
But make no mistake, Bundy had an impressive outing against a Salem team that is currently the best in that league and a club that had scored 13 runs the night before.
Bundy flashed his high 90s fastball, but his curveball was major league quality, according to Keys manger Orlando Gomez, and his changeup is progressing and by the time he actually takes that mound as an Oriole for the first time, he may have three well above-average big league pitches to call his own.
Keith Law calls the Orioles handling of Bundy “bizarre and ultraconservative” and I could not disagree more. They have him in six-man rotations so he can make progress with two side sessions between starts and they have him working on his secondary pitches because they know his fastball is plenty good enough right now.
They let him have nearly two months with Single-A Delmarva to settle in and learn about life in pro ball. He was able to bond with teammates and enjoy life in baseball as a 19-year-old kid without worrying about lugging around the “best prospect in baseball” label on his back.
The kid had both fun and success with Delmarva and now the Orioles are getting on with it by moving him to Single-A Frederick - and Double-A Bowie may be in his future soon, as well.
He clearly got the challenge Saturday night of pitching in front of a sellout crowd hanging on his every move and then pitching after giving up a homer, all the while making sure he threw enough non-fastballs to keep the brass in Baltimore happy.
The kid got it all done and handled the postgame media attention like a pro. He’s doing pretty much everything well right now and is clearly not overly impressed with his guady stats or all the attention he gets.
I won’t waste time watching Law throw a fit because he doesn’t agree with the Orioles here. I’ll spend it enjoying and marveling at the amazing talent of a young kid who is fun to watch and has no ego even though he seems to get more local and national media attention every day.
Meanwhile, Jones is now where Bundy is likely headed. He’s a star in the major leagues and he got his just reward Sunday with a new six-year deal worth $85.5 million.
During his press conference, Jones said:
* “Baltimore is a great baseball city. We have to prove to the fans that we are for real, and we’re slowly doing it.”
* “We’ve got the team here. We just have to do it all year. Anyone can do it for two months. But I’ll take my team against anybody.”
* “Me here, I fit here in this city, I fit here on this team, I fit in Camden Yards. I really don’t see myself wearing another white uniform that doesn’t have Orioles across the chest. If we win here, this is my championship, this is our championship. I am not part of someone else’s championship. That makes me even hungrier to win. We can beat the odds here, and I want to be a part of it.”
* “There are a lot of things I want to do in this city. As a kid, I didn’t have all the resources and somehow I made it. I enjoy helping kids. Everyone just needs a window of opportunity.”
Adam didn’t hit any balls out of the park during Sunday’s game but he sure did during the press conference. He showed he is a player that embraces Baltimore, wants badly to win, is ready to lead the team in doing that and that he’ll be a big part of the community when the games are over.
That is exactly the kind of player and person any team would want to keep around for many years and the Orioles have done just that.
They may have lost two of three over the weekend but, in a span of about 16 hours, we got to see a glimpse of possible future weekends, months and seasons that might put Baltimore back on the big league baseball map.
Tough weekend? I don’t think so.