If has not been often that we can say an Orioles prospect is ranked as the best in baseball. But today, Dylan Bundy is No. 1. He has been ranked as baseball's best prospect at midseason by Baseball America.
Matt Wieters was ranked the game's No. 1 prospect by Baseball America before the 2009 season. In this current listing, Manny Machado is ranked No. 9.
John Manuel, Baseball America's editor in chief, told me that when his staff put together a preliminary list ranking their top 50, Texas Double-A shortstop Jurickson Profar was No. 1 just ahead of Bundy. But that changed when Baseball America reached out to scouts for their input.
"When we sent that list and had it vetted by some pro scouts, it was pretty overwhelming that they thought Bundy, not Profar, should be No. 1," Manuel said. Most comments started with 'this is a pretty good list, but the first thing you have to do is put Bundy ahead of Profar.' It was pretty consistent how that went.
"I think the fact that he is so advanced and polished. The combination of polish and power is what separates him. No scout we heard from had any pitcher ahead of Bundy in the minors."
Manuel said that pretty much every scout that Baseball America contacted said Bundy should be rated No. 1.
"We probably got at least 30 responses (from scouts) and I am not sure if it was unanimous, but it if wasn't, it was pretty close," Manuel said. "Like Tom Seaver, who got 98.6 percent of the vote for the Hall of Fame, it did surprise me a bit."
Bundy is 5-2 with an ERA of 1.87 in 15 starts this year between Single-A Delmarva and Single-A Frederick. Over 62 2/3 innings, he has walked 13 and fanned 74 batters with a .165 batting average against.
Bundy gave up just five hits and no earned runs in a stunning performance over 30 innings with Delmarva to start his season and now is 4-2 with an ERA of 3.58 for Frederick in 32 2/3 innings.
Bundy will pitch in the All-Star Futures Game this Sunday. When the second half of the season resumes, Bundy will be allowed to pitch more than five innings in his third start, around July 26, Orioles director of pitching development Rick Peterson said.
Manuel said Bundy is the clear No. 1 pitcher at a time when there are some impressive young arms out there.
"Even if you count pitchers that have just been called up, like Trevor Bauer, the feeling we got was that the separation between Bundy and the rest of the pitchers was greater than the separation between Profar and other position players like Wil Myers of the Royals," Manuel said. "Bundy is not the first among equals, he's the first and all other pitchers come after him.
"That is a little bit of a surprise because last year's draft was really good in terms of pitching. The Orioles are being critiqued and watched by the industry for how they are handling Bundy. So far, so good with Bundy.
"Not only has he stayed healthy but his stuff has been very crisp and he's been efficient. He definitely has some separation over other top prospect pitchers like Gerrit Cole, who was drafted No. 1 last year, and Jameson Taillon who was drafted a year ahead of him."