In looking back at the days leading up to last June's First-Year Player Draft, Baseball America's Jim Callis was very high on high school pitcher Dylan Bundy. He said if the Orioles got the right-hander, they might be winding up with the best player in the draft with the fourth overall pick.
Here is what Callis said about Bundy last June after the O's did wind up getting Bundy with that fourth pick:
"You could argue that they got perhaps the best player in the draft. If not the best player, they at least got the best pitcher in Dylan Bundy. I know there was some talk they might go for Archie Bradley because Bundy had a $30 million price tag and they were possibly going to go with Bradley.
"But in the end, they got Bundy. In a draft with tremendous depth in college pitching, I kept having scouts tell me that Bundy might be better than all the college arms including Gerrit Cole who went number one.
"I don't know what you could want Bundy to do better. He has stuff and not just the fastball, a good breaking pitch and advanced changeup. He's got command, athleticism and an easy, balanced delivery. His work ethic is off the charts. I don't know what more you could want him to do. He's one of those guys that could make a draft all by himself."
This week, one year later, Callis looks right on with those comments. But even Jim admitted this week that Bundy's eye-popping stats have got to be beyond even what Bundy's biggest supporters among draft analysts could have expected.
"We all knew Dylan Bundy was advanced, but I don't think anybody thought he was this advanced," Callis said. "I had a scout I respect as much as anyone in the game and we were talking about all the college pitchers from last year's draft and he said Bundy could get up there as quickly as any of them.
"He's amazing and if we were doing our top 100 prospects list now, we'd probably rank him as the top prospect in baseball. The flip side is it's his first year in pro ball and I don't think the Orioles want to pile a lot of innings on him. I'd be surprised if he threw more than 120 innings.
"He is as exciting as any pitching prospect in baseball this year. He's got the stuff and command and competitive nature to maybe even survive in the big leagues this year but I'd be skeptical that we see that. It would be a tremendous story, but I don't know how you could pull it off."
Bundy is 2-0 with an ERA of 0.51 in nine starts at two levels this year. After not allowing an earned run and just five hits in 30 innings at Single-A Delmarva, he made his debut a week ago today at Single-A Frederick and gave up two two runs, including a homer, over five innings against Salem.
Bundy's second scheduled Frederick start was rained out last night and he is set to pitch later today in game one of a doubleheader at 5:05 p.m. at Wilmington.
How the Orioles have handled Bundy this year, starting him in the South Atlantic League with Delmarva before his recent promotion to Frederick, has been much discussed and debated by fans and the media. What is Callis' take on that?
"It makes a lot of sense to me, but because he has been so spectacular, I get constant questions about why don't they just send him to Double-A now? This isn't a race. You want the best for Dylan Bundy in the long run. I think they have come up with a very smart plan," he said.
"Their plan is more aggressive than what the Pirates did with (high school right-hander Jameson) Taillon. Taillon pitched 93 innings in Low-A (last yeaer). Bundy will surpass that. I think what they are doing is very prudent. The only way you even consider altering your plan is if it's mid-August and they are still contending and even then you have to ask, do we really want this guy to go 160 innings rather than 120? I'm not sure you do."
No doubt what Bundy is doing right now is probably among the most impressive debuts perhaps ever by a pitcher coming out of the high school ranks.
"I don't remember a pitcher doing this," Callis said. "His stats are ridiculous, just ridiculous. It's not like this is a guy going to the GCL, it was a high school kid going to Low-A. What was it, 30 innings (at Delmarva) with two hits and 40 strikeouts? That's absurd. I've never seen a guy with those type of numbers. For a while, it seemed he was striking out one out of every two batters he faced.
"When you're projecting guys out, some fans ask where does a guy fit in a rotation? I don't separate ones and twos very much. I think you have frontline starters, mid-rotation starters and then fifth starters.
"Dylan is one of the few guys you would say has No. 1 starter potential. His profile is at the top of the charts and he's done nothing to make you think he is not a No. 1 starter."
About Steve Johnson: As for the situation with Triple-A pitcher Steve Johnson, as of this morning, nothing has been resolved. The midnight deadline passed and now it appears that Johnson, through his agent, must declare today whether he is taking his out clause, which could lead to him leaving the organization.
If he does opt to take the out, the team could still respond then by either putting him on the 40-man roster or negotiating to keep him with the club while perhaps not putting him on the 40-man.
Johnson was activated off the DL and was set to pitch game two of a doubleheader last night. He had warmed up when the game was rained out, so now he is scheduled to pitch tomorrow for Norfolk - if he is still an Oriole then.
If you think this thing is dragging out a bit, you are probably right. Maybe the team wanted to see him pitch last night so he could prove his groin injury is behind him. Either way, this situation is not over yet.
Bundy takes his first pro loss: Even though he gave up just one run today, Bundy lost 1-0 at Wilmington in game one of a doubleheader to suffer his first professional loss.
Wilmington pushed across a run against Bundy on two singles and a sac bunt to plate that run in the last of the fifth to beat the Keys in the opener of the twin bill.
Bundy is now 1-1 with an ERA of 2.70 in two Carolina League starts. In those outings he has pitched ten innings allowing nine hits and three runs with one walk and 13 strikeouts.