Keeping Score

Meet Dylan Bundy: The Minor Leaguer Baseball Is Buzzing About

The 19-year-old right-hander, a Baltimore Orioles farmhand, isn't long for the minors

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Tony Firriolo / MLB Photos / Getty Images
Tony Firriolo / MLB Photos / Getty Images

Dylan Bundy of the Baltimore Orioles poses on Thursday, March 1, 2012.

It’s a catchy name, for sure: Dylan Bundy. Don’t forget it. He may be arriving at a big league ballpark real soon.

Bundy, whom the Baltimore Orioles drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Owasso High, near Tulsa, is the most buzz-worthy prospect baseball has seen since Stephen Stasburg and Bryce Harper, who are both playing for the Washington Nationals. Great pitchers tend to dominate the low minor leagues, but not quite like Bundy has: to start the season in low-A ball, Bundy threw 30 innings without allowing an earned run. He struck out 40 batters, and allowed just five hits.  The Orioles have finally promoted Bundy from the low-A Delmarva Shorebirds, in Salibury, Md., to the high-A Frederick (Md.) Keys. He’ll make his debut for Frederick on Saturday.

Sure, we’ve seen plenty of highly touted phenoms like Bundy flame out. ESPN’s Keith Law, a former front-office exec with the Toronto Blue Jays, now ranks Bundy as the top prospect in the minors. The right-hander hit 100-m.p.h. on the radar during his first bullpen session at a big league camp this spring. Fangraphs, the baseball analytics site, called Bundy “about as unique as they come” and a “franchise cornerstone type of arm.”

(MORE: Why Baseball Managers Don’t Make The (Relative) Big Bucks)

In an SI.com profile, writer Albert Chen noted that Bundy squats 500 pounds, and is a “health and nutrition freak that eats homemade granola bars, drinks broccoli and barley smoothies.” Gross, I know. But if you thought this diet was helping you throw 100 m.p.h., you’d chug broccoli like a college freshman pounds plastic cups. Chen calls Bundy “the most fascinating pitching prospect since the Freak, Tim Lincecum.” Bundy is a proponent of long tossing, the practice of strengthening your arm by throwing baseballs 300 or even 400 feet. Many observers within baseball think the practice kills young arms. Bundy has refused to stop tossing, and who can blame him, given the results?

Watch Bundy mow down some batters here:

As of Friday, both the Orioles and Nationals are in first place. On Washington, Harper and Strasburg look like they’ll live up to the hype. Baltimore has Bundy. For the first time in probably forever, Beltway baseball fans have lots of reasons to smile.

(MORE: Bryce Harper: Baseball’s LeBron James – or Ryan Leaf?)

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