By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
10:33 PM EDT, September 19, 2012
SEATTLE — Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy was asleep in his hotel room in Sarasota, Fla., at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday when his roommate told him that Brian Graham, the Orioles' minor league instruction coordinator, was on the phone.
"[Graham] told me I was on a plane at 7 a.m. and I was going to pitch here in Seattle," said the 19-year-old Bundy, the fourth overall pick in 2011. "So I said, 'Are you messing with me?' And he said, 'No, I'm not going to mess with you at 4 in the morning.' So next thing I know I'm at the airport and on my way to Seattle."
His plane landed at about 12:30 p.m., Seattle time. And when it touched down, the highly anticipated Dylan Bundy Orioles Era began.
"We needed a pitcher for tonight, he worked all his life to be a big leaguer, he is on our [40-man] roster," said Dan Duquette, the club's executive vice president. "So we thought this was a good opportunity."
The Orioles used seven relievers in Tuesday's 18-inning victory over the Mariners and badly needed pitching reinforcements. Bundy is the only non-injured pitcher on the club's 40-man roster who was not already with the big league team.
"He's a good fit for us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We didn't have a lot of options and we needed an arm here today, especially where we are with the roster.'
Bundy, who was 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 23 total starts with Single-A Delmarva and Frederick and Double-A Bowie, initially will pitch out of the bullpen. He was considered the best long relief option for Wednesday against the Mariners.
Duquette said he's not thinking about role Bundy will serve beyond this week, but he will stay with the team for the remainder of the season. He is eligible for the club's playoff roster, if the Orioles decide to place him on it — something that's not on the radar yet, Duquette said.
Rated by many as the best pitching prospect in baseball, Bundy hadn't appeared in a game since allowing just one run in six innings in the Eastern League playoffs Sept. 5. He had thrown three bullpen sessions at the Orioles' instructional league and was supposed to start in a game in Sarasota on Friday.
The Orioles said a few weeks ago that Bundy likely would not be called up this year because he needed to work on things in Sarasota.
"Them actually saying in the media that I'm not getting called up just made me want to work even harder to get there next year," Bundy said.
He said he tried to contact his parents several times Wednesday morning, but didn't reach them until about 5:30 a.m. Immediately, they made plans to join him in Seattle, where he had six family members and his agents on hand.
When Bundy makes his debut, he'll become the 51st Oriole this season — and the youngest since 19-year-old right-hander Mike Adamson debuted on July 1, 1967. Bundy, who turns 20 in November, will become the 16th youngest player in Orioles history, sliding in front of Dave McNally.
The organization's most successful pitcher, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer, thinks Bundy has what it takes to handle the pressure and scrutiny.
"He's going to get a lot of support from the guys in the bullpen, just like I did when I came up," said Palmer, who debuted at 19 and roomed with Hall of Famer Robin Roberts. "It's a veteran bullpen that's been down the road and will be able to help him for the next couple weeks. I'm sure he'll be a little bit nervous, but I've got to think he is pretty confident in his abilities [and that] as long as he continues to do what he does and stays within himself, he'll have success."
The leader of the Orioles' current bullpen, isn't concerned about Bundy's tender age.
"He's not a normal 19 year old. He is very mature," closer Jim Johnson said. "He's got a lot of intangibles that other 19 year olds don't have. So I don't think it is going to be as big of a deal as people think it is."
Bundy is the second high-profile youngster that the club has promoted in the past six weeks. Third baseman Manny Machado, 20, joined the Orioles on Aug. 9 and has been a mainstay in the lineup since.
"I told him, it's the same game. Don't try to do things you can't do. Don't try to pump up the [radar] gun now. Just go out there, have fun," said Machado, who thinks his brief success in the majors should relax Bundy. "He sees me being successful and doing all right, and it might give him a little less pressure to put on himself. Just be like, 'Hey, he is doing it. I can do it as well.' That's good."
Bundy, who was with the Orioles in spring training, said he is much more comfortable with the team now because he knows a lot of the guys.
"Yeah, definitely," he said. "I was a lot more nervous the first day of spring training than I was today coming into the locker room."
The question is, how nervous will he be on the mound in his first appearance?
Duquette, for one, isn't worried.
"All he has to do is his job, right? Come in and throw strikes," Duquette said. "He is joining a group of very talented players, so we are not asking him to do anything else other than his job, and it's a job he's wanted to do all his life, be a major league pitcher."
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