Dylan Bundy might be the future of the Orioles' rotation, but the future is now for the High-A Frederick Keys, who have pulled out all the stops for the 2011 first-round pick's Carolina League debut Saturday night against the Salem Red Sox.
The team opened the gates to Harry Grove Stadium early after a sparsely attended concert by the Milkshakes, a local Grammy-nominated children's group, and with about 45 minutes remaining before the first pitch, the crowd looks bigger than the one Frederick drew for Opening Day this year. Only general-admission tickets remained when the gates opened, but hopeful callers to the press box phone were urged to snap those up quickly if they wanted to see the main event.
Bundy, who allowed just five hits in eight starts and struck out 40 in 30 innings of work for Low-A Delmarva, will face a lineup that includes several of Boston's top prospects — including 19-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts and former College World Series MVP Jackie Bradley Jr. — as well as rehabbing Boston outfielder Ryan Kalish, who has battled injuries since his 2010 major league debut.
A cursory look at the opposing lineups for Bundy's previous eight starts indicates that this will be the first time he has toed the rubber against a player with major league experience, so on top of adjusting to the advanced competition in High-A, Bundy will be challenged in that respect as well.
The press box is packed tonight, but Frederick's stadium radar gun is a touch inconsistent, so I'll be making my way down to mingle with the scouts and snag some velocity readings. I'll be checking back in after the game with reaction from Bundy and will be providing some in-game updates on Twitter @JonMeoli.