By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
10:01 PM EST, February 19, 2012
SARASOTA, Fla. —
The soft-spoken 19-year-old tucked away in a corner of the Orioles' spring training clubhouse is still hard to miss.
For now, the main concern for Dylan Bundy, the fourth overall pick in last year's major league draft — and the first high school player selected — is surviving the traffic of the drink cooler parked right next to his locker.
In a big league camp full of youth, he's the youngest player in this clubhouse by four-and-a-half years. Because he signed a major league deal in August, he's contractually obligated to be here. Like most players designated with high jersey numbers — Bundy wore No. 82 for Sunday's first day of pitcher-and-catcher workouts — he will soon find his innings at minor league camp.
There's no doubt that Bundy is a huge part of the Orioles future. He's yet to throw a professional pitch, but has already been tabbed the organization's top prospect by Baseball America. MLB.com ranked him the 10th-best prospect in all of baseball.
He dominated hitters in high school — Bundy was the Baseball America High School Player of the Year, pitching to an 11-0 record an 0.20 ERA at Owasso (Okla.) High — and owns a fastball that reaches triple digits.
And on Monday, under the veil of the covered batting cages at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, Bundy will participate in the Orioles' new biomechanical testing, which analyzes a pitcher's delivery. It will be his first throwing session of the spring.
"I might watch that," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said with a smirk.
When Bundy, who signed a $6.25 million deal (with a $4 million signing bonus) last August, arrived at the Orioles' spring facility Saturday, he looked around at the nearly empty and newly remodeled clubhouse and couldn't help but get shivers.
"I was nervous just walking in, but luckily there were only three or four people in here," he said with a laugh. "I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday. Basically you're just excited and anxious. You're excited to get going. It seemed like this winter took forever, but we're here now."
Bundy's locker lines up next to the other young arms so instrumental to the Orioles' future — Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter.
"The main thing I want to get out of it is pick their brains and see what they think about things and learn from them," Bundy said.
And it wasn't all that long ago that those pitchers were in similar situations.
"We're all young," Britton said, "so I think we can relate to him better. I think the biggest thing he'll learn from this is that it's a completely different atmosphere. When he goes down to the minors, he will be like, 'Gosh, I can't wait to get back up there.'"
Britton is among the Orioles players and coaches who know Bundy's older brother, Bobby, an eighth-round pick of the Orioles in 2008 that finished last season at Double-A Bowie and will be in minor league camp. They also know about the Bundy brothers' intensive workout regimen, which included 300-yard shuttle runs at a training facility in Tulsa, Okla.
Bundy spending offseasons in Texas playing baseball since the age of 15 helped him for what he's walking into now.
"Living on your own, I think that really set me apart from all the other young players," Bundy said.
Said Showalter: "He's a real serious kid, and rightfully so. It's not because he's nervous either. I'm sure he's trying to figure out a way to make the club. He's going to get out of this what he needs to get out of this and get on with his season this year. He's got a lot of respect for the level here. You can tell he's been around baseball. He's a very polished young man."
How long Bundy stays in major league camp is uncertain. His innings at the Ed Smith complex could be few before he moves to the minor league facility at Twin Lakes Park across town. His brief taste of the majors will not compromise his promising future.
"He needs to get out of this camp," Showalter said. "His finish line, we've tentatively got it mapped it out about his innings and where he starts. You don't want to use up the innings he's going to have in April and May and not have him pitch in August. We'll certainly monitor his innings and we're going to deliver him healthy, hopefully, down to that camp and hopefully he will get ready for this season.
"He's not going to make this club out of camp. His train will get moving a little later."
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