Orioles' future bright with Machado, Bundy, Gausman

BALTIMORE - Over the last two months of the 2012 season, Baltimore Orioles fans got a glimpse into what the future might hold for their team. Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy both made it to the majors and Kevin Gausman made it to Class AA Bowie.

If those three guys are able to build off what they accomplished last season, the future is bright for Baltimore.

Machado played the biggest role of the three last season. The 20-year-old was called up to the Orioles in early August and immediately made a big impact on the team.

He tripled in his first game and homered twice in his second. The 2010 No. 3 overall pick hit .262 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs in 51 games.

"Once I came up the guys treated me well in the clubhouse and on the field," Machado said last month at Orioles FanFest. "That helped a lot. It was a great team bond we had last year."

Machado also provided above-average defense at third base, a position where the Orioles struggled to field a strong defensive player from April through July. Machado quickly became a fan favorite, as chants of his name were heard throughout Camden Yards, and he got to experience the playoffs.

"I've already played in the majors and made the playoffs my first year," Machado said, "so that's definitely going to help coming into the season, giving me a little bit of confidence."

Machado had played third base just twice in the minors prior to getting called up to the big leagues, as he was drafted to play shortstop. Machado said there have been no plans of him going back to his old position in the near future.

"I talked to Buck and I think we're just going to keep working at third," Machado said. "I never played third, so I've still got to keep working."

Despite getting a fair amount of experience last season, Machado said he feels he still has to prove he's worthy of a spot on the roster this spring.

"I've still got to go out there and earn a spot," Machado said. "Nothing's handed out for free, I still got to go show Buck I can go out and play third base."

Bundy rose through the minor leagues quickly last season, and surprised many by making two big-league appearances out of the bullpen. The hard-throwing right-hander was impressive at three different minor league levels last year.

The 2011 No. 4 overall pick went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in eight starts at Low Class-A Delmarva to begin the season. At High Class-A Frederick, Bundy went 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 12 starts.

Then, at Bowie, Bundy went 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in three starts. Bundy got a small dose of the majors with two relief appearances in September.

He pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit.

"It definitely got the nerves out of there," Bundy said. "I think it's going to help going forward."

Expectations are once again high for the 20-year-old this season, as he was named Baseball America's No. 2 prospect in baseball. Bundy said his goal is getting back to the majors.

"Expectation's to be in the big leagues," Bundy said. "Everybody goes to camp looking to break camp, and that's my goal."

Gausman, Baltimore's first-round pick last year taken fourth overall, is older than both Machado and Bundy at 21. Unlike those two, Gausman played college ball as a starter for Louisiana State University.

The right-hander pitched six scoreless innings in two starts for short season Class-A Aberdeen before being promoted to Frederick. Gausman was not as impressive for the Keys, going 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in three starts.

Gausman started Bowie's third playoff game of 2012, pitching three shutout innings, giving up just two hits and striking out five. Gausman said he is pushing himself to try to make the majors, but he'll work hard no matter where he begins 2013.

"I'm just going to work hard every day," Gausman said, "and wherever they put me at the beginning of the year, I'm going to try to win games."

Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette said he had plenty of trade offers in the offseason, but he did not want to part with the organization's young talent.

"We like our young pitching," Duquette said. "I'd much prefer to take a look at them and have them help the Orioles than to utilize them in a trade."

While many people were upset with the lack of offseason moves by Baltimore, it would've been much harder to complete a deal without including one of its top prospects. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he likes having the young talent and the composition of his team.

"I like where we are," Showalter said. "Let [people] think that we didn't do anything. I'm OK with that mentality."