I didn’t like the Orioles’ selection of Dylan Bundy in the June draft. I’m sure he’s a heck of a nice kid and no doubt a very talented prospect, but the Baltimore organization is a hazard to young pitchers. Quite simply, the Orioles couldn’t develop a Polaroid. I had hoped that the O’s would take Anthony Rendon, an advanced college bat that even they probably couldn’t totally screw up. Instead, they opted for the high-ceiling 18-year-old with the live arm.
Putting aside the fact that the Orioles have been turning can’t miss prospects into Atlantic League All-Stars for years, I was genuinely glad when the team agreed to terms with Bundy prior to the 8/15 signing deadline. That was until I heard that they gave Bundy a major-league contract. It was a brilliant request by Bundy’s camp and essentially ensures that the youngster will spend as little time as possible in Baltimore’s toxic player development system. From the Orioles perspective, it’s sheer lunacy. Baltimore would have been better off guaranteeing Bundy a larger bonus than advancing his development timetable with a big-league deal.
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I’ve heard reports from scouts full of hyperbole about Bundy being the best high school pitching prospect ever and being nearly major-league ready. I’ll believe it when I see it. For a team like Texas or Toronto or Atlanta, a major-league deal for a high-end high schooler may be appropriate. For Baltimore, it just puts undue pressure on an ill-equipped development system. Bundy must remain on the Orioles 25-man roster beginning in 2015 or risk being passed through waivers. Bundy will be just 22 in 2015. A shoulder strain, blistered pitching hand or, heaven forbid, some actual struggles on the field will derail Bundy’s rushed timetable and force the Orioles into making a difficult, and possibly premature decision.
Baltimore already went through this mess with Adam Loewen. Detroit rushed Rick Porcello to the big leagues because of his contract and, rather than honing his craft in double-A, he’s wasting his pre- arbitration years as a back-end starter for Detroit. By the time Porcello develops into a front-line starter, assuming that ever happens, he’ll be filing for free agency. I could be way off base, and sincerely hope that I am, but Dylan Bundy is more likely to be struggling as the O’s fifth starter in 2014 than contending for a Cy Young award. If he’s playing right field for the Blue Jays triple-A affiliate, then you can chalk it up as another epic fail for the O’s.