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What is the next step for Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy?

Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy (49) participates in a drill during the first spring training workout for Orioles pitchers and catchers in Sarasota, Fla., Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.
Orioles pitcher Dylan Bundy (49) participates in a drill during the first spring training workout for Orioles pitchers and catchers in Sarasota, Fla., Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. (Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy, whose 2015 season was cut short by shoulder issues, took a significant step forward Wednesday, throwing a 20-pitch side session from a full mound at the team's spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla.

It was the first time the 22-year-old threw off a full mound in more than four months since he was shelved with an ailing right shoulder in May. It was later diagnosed that Bundy had a calcification in his shoulder that was causing soreness.

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Bundy was cleared by Dr. James Andrews to resume throwing on Aug. 31 and has been in Sarasota for the past month, working on a throwing progression. Initially, the Orioles hoped that Bundy could log some innings in instructional league games, but that won't happen since the final games there are Tuesday.

"At this point, he's looking really good," Orioles player development director Brian Graham said. "The ball is coming out free and easy. He has good rotation and good velocity. He has no physical complaints. The ball is coming out of his hand really well. From our perspective, from a baseball perspective, he looks great."

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Bundy, who is rehabilitating under the supervision of Orioles minor league medical coordinator Dave Walker, still has about two weeks before he'll be considered game-ready as he continues to work up a pitch count and throw all of his pitches in side sessions.

The Orioles haven't yet determined the next step. If they decide Bundy would benefit from pitching game innings this offseason, he could still go to the Arizona Fall League or he could pitch winter ball. If the Orioles choose to go either one of those routes, Bundy would likely be held to strict pitch and inning counts.

The club could also decide that he should rest instead of pitching in games this offseason. The decision will be made by Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, manager Buck Showalter, major league pitching coach Dave Wallace and Graham.

"If the best thing for Dylan Bundy is for him to get innings, or the best thing is for him to go home and have a normal offseason and come back in the spring ready to pitch, that's something we'll have internal discussions about," Graham said.

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The club's main priority is to keep Bundy healthy. But Bundy will also be out of minor league options in 2016, meaning the Orioles must keep him on the major league roster if he's healthy. Since having Tommy John elbow reconstruction in June 2013, Bundy has pitched in just 17 minor league games. He pitched in eight games this season for Double-A Bowie before being shelved with the shoulder injury.

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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