Orioles call up pitching phenom Bundy
MLB.com's No. 2 prospect will join club's bullpen down stretch
SEATTLE-- One of the most important phone calls of Dylan Bundy's life and the 19-year-old didn't answer.
Instead, it was roommate Joe Oliveira who grabbed the ringing cellphone at 3:45 a.m. in their Sarasota, Fla., hotel room, with Orioles coordinator of Minor League instruction Brian Graham on the line with the news: Bundy was going to the big leagues.
"I said, 'Are you messing with me?'" said Bundy, ranked No. 2 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects List, on the phone with Graham. "And he said, 'No, I'm not going to mess with you at 4 in the morning.' So next thing I know, I'm at the airport and on my way to Seattle."
Bundy's first call was to his parents -- both of whom didn't answer multiple middle-of-the-night calls either -- and the typically stoic teenager was so excited he arrived at the hotel lobby an hour early to meet Graham. In the interim, there were numerous trips back to his room for his phone charger and toiletry bag, as the young right-hander admittingly threw a few things in his bag and practically skipped to the lobby.
Asked if he was always this forgetful, Bundy grinned and said: "No, never. I'm sure I forgot some things, too."
As long as Bundy brought his fastball, no one is complaining. On the heels of an 18-inning, 4-2 win over the Mariners, the O's -- who used seven pitchers behind Wei-Yin Chen on Tuesday night -- officially promoted Bundy in the wee hours Wednesday morning, and he is expected to be used out of the bullpen. Bundy, a much buzzed-about prospect who was already on the team's 40-man roster, said the experience didn't hit him until taking a cab to the ballpark Wednesday afternoon and seeing the arch of Safeco Field.
"It's not just because he is on the roster, it's not just because there was a need," manager Buck Showalter said of Bundy, who was pitching in the organization's fall instructional league in Sarasota. "It was because we felt like he is capable of contributing."
Bundy, who would be the first Baltimore player to make his Major League debut before turning 20 since right-hander Mike Adamson in 1967, was the Orioles' fourth overall pick in 2011's Draft, and his fastball hit triple digits as a high schooler. Always drawing a crowd when throwing this spring, as the youngest member of big league camp, Bundy was 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA in 103 2/3 innings as a starter, pitching for three levels and ending the year at Double-A Bowie in his first pro season.
Bundy's promotion will last at least the rest of the season, according to executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, and the youngster could be eligible for the postseason roster if needed as a replacement for an O's player on the disabled list.
"Dylan has worked hard to prepare himself for Major League Baseball and we have an opportunity for him to help the team," Duquette said. "He has unique combination of power and finesse and just needs experience."
Bundy will get it in a pennant race, as the Orioles -- who clinched the organization's first winning season in 15 years on Sunday -- are gunning for the club's first playoff game since 1997. Bundy joins 20-year-old shortstop Manny Machado, who was promoted in August, as the latest phenom to try to help out.
"I told him, 'It's the same game, don't try to do things you can't do,'" said Machado, who has been around Bundy the past two years. "'Don't try to pump up the gun now. Just go out there, have fun, throw your stuff. You have some of the most electric stuff in baseball ... just go out there, throw and don't put any pressure on yourself,' basically."
Bundy gives Showalter another right-hander out of an overworked bullpen. Bundy said he's confident he will be able to adapt to getting ready quickly despite his infamously regimented starting routine that includes 300-feet long toss.
"Maybe I need to go play catch with [center fielder] Adam Jones in the fifth or sixth inning," Bundy joked. "If I can do that, I don't know. I don't know what I'm going to have to do, but I think the adrenaline, the stadium, the team, the big leagues, I think I'll have enough energy to get going."
Added Showalter: "If you give him enough time, he'll get up. He's young and bulletproof."
Bundy impressed his teammates this spring, keeping his head down in big league camp and shying away from the almost unavoidable spotlight. His performance and work ethic -- he brought his punching bag down to Florida and would often partake in extra workouts in his hotel room -- have been chronicled since his days at Owasso (Okla.) High School.
"He handled himself like he's been here before, and he's 19 years old," Baltimore pitching coach Rick Adair said of Bundy, who had his parents and siblings on hand Wednesday in Seattle. "He's a very mature kid that obviously has had some very good parenting. Obviously, [he's] a great competitor."
Bundy, who said he still has feel for his cutter -- which the organization took away this season -- will try to slow the game down the first time he steps on the mound, reminding the group of reporters Wednesday that it's still 60 feet, 6 inches, the same distance at Double-A Bowie.
And while Bundy isn't expected to save the Orioles, he will certainly add a boost to what has already been one of baseball's best stories. Hall of Famer and current team broadcaster Jim Palmer -- who also came up to the big leagues at 19 -- said there will be a learning curve, but talents like Bundy have been competing at a higher level for most of their lives.
"Did it take an 18-inning game to get him up here? Yes. But, so what?" Palmer said. "This will be his first baby step, I'm sure they will be judicious with how he's used. But he's here for a reason."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.