Right-hander Dylan Bundy’s seven-pitch outing in the Arizona Fall League yesterday certainly attracted attention. Even though he got three outs so fast that if you blinked, you may have missed it, some fans were no doubt excited that Bundy was back on a mound.
It was his first outing in a game since he pitched four scoreless innings for Double-A Bowie on May 21 at Trenton. At that point, Bundy’s comeback from Tommy John surgery on June 27, 2013 was just about complete. His command was coming around, he had touched 96 and 97 mph with his fastball, and was more consistently in the mid-90s in Double-A games in May.
Just when Bundy was beginning to look like his sometimes dominant 2012 self, a strange shoulder issue cropped up in May. He was shut down with discomfort caused by calcification in the Teres minor muscle behind his right shoulder.
It seemed like there was an injury around every corner for this kid. But each time I’ve interviewed Bundy since the Orioles drafted him - almost too many times to count - Bundy has been positive and upbeat. While some fans have almost written him off as a prospect, this kid just never got down. He wants to pitch again in the big leagues and, since he is out of options now, that chance should come next year.
There are reasons for fans to be excited about Bundy since he was pitching very well in May for Bowie. But at the same time, we should not get too carried away with the few innings he will throw in Arizona. He is certainly not starting over again, but the shoulder issue set him back a bit yet again.
Bundy, who turns 23 Nov. 15, has pitched just 167 career minor league innings and just 38 2/3 innings at Double-A. But the talent that allowed him to be named the Orioles’ minor league Pitcher of the Year after that dynamic 2012 season and to be ranked No. 2 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list heading into 2013, is still there.
He just needs health and innings and experience. All eyes were on Bundy when he pitched in 2012. His starts were events that drew scouts and reporters alike to the ballparks around the South Atlantic League, Carolina League and Eastern League. As we saw yesterday, this kid can have an outing of just seven pitches, but it will still attract plenty of attention.
In that same game yesterday, O’s 21-year-old left-handed pitching prospect Tanner Scott once again touched 101 mph with his fastball. Scott had also touched triple digits in O’s instructional league and in earlier AFL games. He threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings for Peoria on 13 pitches, 11 for strikes.
O’s officials have to be quite encouraged that Scott has gotten seven outs in his last two AFL outings while needing just 20 pitches to go 2 1/3 innings with 18 strikes. In 42 1/3 innings in 2015 between short-season Single-A Aberdeen and Single-A Delmarva, Scott pitched to an ERA of 3.83. He walked 22 and fanned 60 batters.
The O’s drafted Scott in the sixth round out of Howard (Texas) Junior College in 2014. He was signed to a well overslot $650,000 bonus. He has pitched often between 94 and 97 mph, but clearly can throw harder. Scott is a secret no more - if he ever was.
But keep in mind he is still a pitcher very much in the developmental process. His slider and command are below average. He has plenty of work to do. But the velocity is legit and some project that Scott could progress into a power lefty used late in games in the mold of a Jake McGee of the Tampa Bay Rays. Scott should start the 2016 season in Single-A, possibly at Frederick, but he could move fast out of the bullpen.
Bundy and Scott give Orioles fans something to be excited about. But as O’s fans have seen a few times before, pitching prospects can get hurt or can fall short of expectations. But for this duo, one game Monday in the AFL, showed what they are capable of doing.