OK, so Dylan Bundy is better than the other boys at Low-A Delmarva.
The Orioles’ top pick last year (fourth overall) has demolished the competition in the South Atlantic League.
On Monday, he pitched four more scoreless innings – for a total of 17 in his pro career.
In his first four pro games, Bundy has allowed one hit, two walks and struck out 25 batters. The Orioles will stretch him out a little bit more, with at least one more four-inning stint at Delmarva, but one has to assume the 19-year-old will be at High-A Frederick soon enough.
There’s been a clamor among the impatient and beleaguered fan base to move the phenom along quickly. Get him to Double-A and beyond, maybe let him make a cameo in September. Heck, he is already on the 40-man roster with a big-league contract. It wouldn’t count against his number of options. There are some within the organization who believe he may already be one of the club’s best five starters right now.
But I am going to be the voice of caution here. I say let Bundy dominate at each level. Let him rip through each step. And if he struggles at a level – say the highly competitive Eastern League – even better.
Part of baseball’s learning process is dealing with adversity, making the adjustments when the competition is figuring you out. Bundy looks spectacular but he is going to struggle at some point. It happens to everyone in the sport.
Plus, the Orioles want him to use his changeup to get outs. The thought is that Class A hitters can’t touch his fastball. And if he gets to Frederick or even Bowie and stops having so much success, he’ll revert to his fastball and the development of his other pitches won’t be as crisp – though the results may still be stellar. But eventually he will face batters who can catch up to a high-90s fastball, so his other pitches need to be refined.
So here is my thought: Let him dominate and then move. At each level. But resist the temptation to have him appear in a big-league game in 2012. Let that be his goal for 2013.
Sure, it might be OK to get his feet wet in September – I wouldn’t be opposed to that -- but he’s a year removed from high school. It’s an exceptionally long season. Let him experience success in year one. And shoot for an appearance with the Orioles at some point in 2013 – if he demonstrates dominance at the appropriate level next year.
That, of course, is not the popular sentiment of the fan base, which wants to see talented players at the big-league level.
The goal, however, with all young pitchers should be not only to get them ready for the big leagues, but to have them equipped to stay once they reach the Orioles. Remember, Jake Arrieta is the only member of the so-called “cavalry” that hasn’t been demoted to Triple-A after the initial big-league promotion.
What do you say?
Daily Think Special: How should the Orioles proceed with the development of Dylan Bundy? What should be his realistic timetable for making the majors?