Another top 100 prospects list was published yesterday and, for the third time in three lists, Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was ranked among the best prospects in the sport.
Baseball America ranked Bundy No. 2 on its list behind only Texas infielder Jurickson Profar. Bundy was also ranked No. 2 by MLB.com and No. 3 by ESPN's Keith Law.
Bundy went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 23 starts this past season at three minor league levels and then pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings in two major league relief appearances in September with the Orioles.
I asked Baseball America's Jim Callis what would be a reasonable progression for the 20-year-old Bundy this season?
"Based on what he did last year, it is certainly reasonable that he will be in the big leagues at some point this season," Callis said. "For all the Orioles did last year, I don't think they have five locks for the rotation. A year ago, I don't think we were talking about Mike Trout having one of the best years a 20-year-old ever had.
"Anything is possible. On sheer talent, not talking about experience, he's the best starter they have. Why can't he make the rotation out of spring training? Now the Orioles are trying to win and he is clearly one of their best five starters.
"I think anything we could come up with would sound reasonable. If you told me Dylan would make the rotation in spring and win 15 games this year, I'm not saying he's a lock for that but I wouldn't say no way to that either. He is that talented."
But doesn't Bundy need more minor league experience and seasoning?
"Look at Bryce Harper. When he went to Double-A, he didn't dominate like he did in the lower minors. Same is true with Dylan," Callis said. "I think the natural course for Dylan would be to get him some Triple-A time. But again, last year I wouldn't have thought the Orioles had any chance to contend and you wouldn't want to waste any of his service time. But now he is one of the best starters. But we can't say he doesn't have anything left to do in the minors. Unless the Orioles have some injuries, though, it wouldn't surprise me if he pitches some in Triple-A (to start the year)."
I asked Callis what he thought about the Orioles' preference that Bundy not throw his cut fastball last season?
"I haven't talked to them specifically about it but I guess they assume that throwing the cutter can take away from your fastball or other pitches," Callis said. "It's not like he doesn't have any other weapons. Sometimes you can have too many and it's better to simplify it. I'm not a pitching coach, but with his fastball, curve and change, he's probably got more than enough to succeed and I can see the reasoning on that."
Meanwhile, infielder Jonathan Schoop, ranked No. 82 at this time last year by Baseball America and No. 50 this year by ESPN's Keith Law, did not make the BA list.
"Schoop got some votes, but he wasn't particularly close to making the top 100," Callis said. "Schoop is an interesting guy and I like him as a prospect, but the guys I voted in my top 100 are for the most part slam-dunk front-half of rotation starters or guys that will be solid everyday big leaguers and potential All-Stars, and I don't quite have Schoop there.
"I respect him as a prospect, but I'm not totally in love with him either. To me, Jonathan Schoop is not a top 100 prospect, he doesn't have that kind of cache with me."
At just 20 years old last season, Schoop played a full season at Double-A Bowie, batting .245 with 24 doubles, 14 homers, 56 RBIs and a .710 OPS. Since he was ranked in the top 100 last year, did the Baseball America editors feel he regressed a bit?
"I don't know if it's regression," Callis said. "The statistics do play a part. If you look at our list, there are not too many guys who didn't have very good 2012 seasons. Schoop was in the 80s last year. He went out and he didn't tear it up and he fell off the list. I wouldn't say regression, but you like the top 100 prospects to perform well. It is about more than stats, but if you are one of baseball's best prospects, those guys usually perform very well, too.
"It doesn't mean we hate him. If you took the guys around No. 60 to 100 on our list, they all probably have very similar grades and so would guys around 120 to 150. There is not a huge difference among some of those guys. In house, we did seven top 150s and our internal lists were very different after you got past the top 40 or 50 guys."