The Orioles expected their negotiations with Dylan Bundy to go right down to Monday night's midnight deadline for signing 2011 draft picks.
There were some anxious moments, but the Orioles agreed to terms with the fourth overall pick about five minutes before the deadline on a five-year major league contract, starting in 2012, that includes a $4 million signing bonus.
Catcher Matt Wieters set a franchise record with a $6 million bonus after the Orioles made him the fifth overall pick out of Georgia Tech in 2007, and it was widely expected that Bundy would threaten that mark.
Orioles director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan said Baseball America's report that Bundy got a guaranteed $6.225 million is "in the ballpark."
"When you just get down to the player, a special kid, a special talent. Very driven," Jordan said. "He has every intangible that the really, really good players have. Barring injury, we agreed to terms with a very special player. It's because of talent. I know this kid, I know his intangibles. I think this is a kid that is not afraid to be really, really good. It's a good night."
It was a successful night all around for Jordan, who finalized deals with the team's top three targets. The Orioles agreed to terms with second-round selection Jason Esposito, a third baseman out of Vanderbilt on a $600,000 deal and sixth-round choice Nick Delmonico, a Tennessee prep third baseman who was the wild card of the team's draft because he was looking for first-round money.
"It was an amazing day," Jordan said. "We played it in the order we wanted. A lot of things happened the way we thought they would. [Director of baseball operations] Matt Klentak was tremendous. We got everything we wanted today, and we had all the support like we always do from [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] and [owner Peter Angelos]. I don't know how else it could have been a better day."
Overall, the Orioles agreed to terms with 22 of their 50 picks, including all of their top 10. Jordan said early in the process that he expected to sign about 20 of the club's selections because the club eliminated one of its teams in the Dominican Republic, along with its Rookie-level Bluefield affiliate.
Jordan also knew that a big chunk of the draft budget would go to Bundy, a right-handed starter considered the best high school pitcher available. Some baseball pundits labeled him as having the most upside in the draft.
The 18-year-old went 11-0 with an 0.20 ERA as a senior at Owasso High in Oklahoma and struck out 595 batters while posting an ERA under 1.00 during his high school career. In 71 innings as a senior, he allowed just two earned runs, 20 hits and five walks while striking out 158. As a hitter, he batted .467 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs in 105 at-bats.
The Orioles see Bundy as the potential top-of-the-rotation starter they have long been seeking. Known for his highly sophisticated training and weightlifting regimen, Bundy has a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s, and he reportedly hit 100 mph this spring. He also throws a hard cut fastball, a biting curve and a developing changeup.
Bundy immediately becomes the Orioles' top pitching prospect. He'll also join an organization that includes his older brother, Bobby, who is pitching for Double-A Bowie. Bobby Bundy, an eighth-round selection in 2008, is one of the front-runners this year for the Jim Palmer Award, given annually to the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
The Orioles knew Dylan Bundy, the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, would be tough to sign. Before the draft, he made it known that he was looking for a $30 million signing bonus, which would have doubled the biggest one given out, the $15.1 million awarded to phenom Stephen Strasburg by the Washington Nationals in 2009.
Asked whether the $30 million figure was accurate on the night of the draft, Bundy said in a conference call with Baltimore reporters, "I guess so, huh?"
Both sides, however, knew that figure wasn't realistic, and Jordan maintained that he didn't plan to set any records in signing Bundy, who had committed to pitch for the University of Texas.
Jordan, who is in the final year of his contract, has signed all seven of his first-round picks since becoming the Orioles' director of amateur scouting.
Because Bundy signed a major league deal, he'll go directly onto the 40-man roster and be at big league spring training in February. When the Orioles send him to the minors before the 2012 season, he'll use the first of his three or four options. Once those options are up, the Orioles would have to pass him through waivers to send him to the minor leagues.
Essentially, a major league deal could accelerate a player's timetable to reach the big leagues and force the Orioles' hand, sort of like it did with Loewen when he had to be in the majors or the Orioles would have risked losing him to waivers.
Esposito, who agreed to a deal worth $30,000 more than the slot recommendation, batted .341 with nine homers and 59 RBIs in 65 games for a Vanderbilt team that made the College World Series. He's considered an above-average defender at third base.
Delmonico, who was believed to be a solid commitment to the University of Georgia, was considered first- or second-round talent by some draft pundits, but he fell to the 185th overall pick. He received a $1.525 million bonus.
Delmonico played catcher at Farragut High. However, the Orioles project him as a third baseman. At 6 feet 3, 215 pounds, Delmonico's best tool is his bat. He batted .426 with 11 homers, 45 RBIs, 53 walks and 23 steals in leading Farragut to a fourth consecutive Class AAA state championship.
The Orioles completed their draft class by signing 26th-rounder Zach Davies, an Arizona prep pitcher who got a $575,000 deal.