High school hurler Bundy praised for work ethic
Right-hander expected to come off board quickly in Draft
Dylan Bundy is one of those kids who can do just about anything well athletically.
Pitch, hit -- you name it -- he can do it on the baseball field. However, it will be his arm that will have him going early Monday in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
One thing he cannot do well, however, is golf -- something he'll likely want to remedy if he wants to have a future as a Major League pitcher.
"I shot like a 120, I don't even know what it really was," Bundy laughed, shortly after the first round of golf in his life. "My ball curves and everything. But I liked it."
Here's the thing about Bundy: he may not be a good golfer yet, but the operative word is "yet." Rest assured, he'll work at it until he becomes good at that craft, too.
In many ways, that's what sets the Oklahoma high schooler apart from many amateur players, be it in this Draft class or others. Sure, he has tremendous stuff and a feel for pitching that makes him more advanced than the typical high school arm, but that work ethic and maturity is what's enabled him to become the best prep arm -- and perhaps the top amateur pitcher of any sort -- this year.
"He's the ultimate professional," said Jason Stump, his pitching coach at Owasso High School, "in the way he treats things, in how he takes care of his body, the way he approaches the game.
"He does all the things that every coach or every dad tells their kids to do -- but he actually does it. There aren't many as mature and driven and centered as he is. He has the type of discipline I wish I had, probably the type of discipline many grown men wish they had."
It doesn't take Bundy long to give credit where it's due. Over the years, his father, Denver, and his brother, Robert (a pitcher in the Orioles system) helped instill the habits that are now second nature to the younger Bundy.
"They kept pounding it into my head -- that I had to be a hard worker," Bundy said. "When I was younger, I didn't like to work, then something clicked. Now, I like to run and work out. I like to do a variety of workouts, because I don't like to do the same thing, just to mix it up."
Normally, variety is the spice of life. But Bundy has developed some unusual workout routines that likely will be received with at least an arched eyebrow at the next level. In his freshman year, Bundy started using a punching bag, a technique Bundy said was developed by family advisor (and his brother's agent) Jay Franklin.
"It strengthens the back side of your shoulder," Bundy said. "I started doing it with my brother. Injury prevention was a big thing that we focused on. You can't play injured."
Another big injury prevention -- and arm strengthening -- technique is long-tossing. Most believe some form of long-toss is a good thing, but Bundy is in the camp that throws looping long-toss from as much as 300 feet apart. It caused a bit of a stir when a report surfaced stating that Bundy's camp had instructed certain teams not to take him because they feared those teams wouldn't let him continue his workout regimen.
Interestingly enough, the whole thing started with Bundy and his brother goofing around outside their Oklahoma house when Dylan was 10 or 11 years old.
"We were out in the pasture and wanted to see how far we could throw it," Bundy said. "We were just kids having fun. We didn't know we were developing arm strength. Then our dad told us it was a great way to do that. It's worked out pretty well."
Bundy can be as understated as he is talented. Though he's listed as just 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, he can crank the fastball up to 98 mph and sit comfortably at 95 mph. He's got a very good curve to go along with a slider and changeup. He's athletic and strong, with a clean delivery and excellent command, especially for a high school pitcher.
His performance and his seeming durability have helped erase the usual concerns about undersized right-handers and, to an extent, about taking a high school pitcher up near the top of the Draft. The fact he was ever even discussed by the Pirates -- a high school right-hander has never been selected No. 1 overall -- shows just how much Bundy breaks through certain pitching stereotypes. His talent has more than one scout thinking he's the best pitcher in the class, and it's clear Bundy has enjoyed being a myth-buster of sorts.
"I started pitching in the spring, that pretty much got rid of that," Bundy said about any lingering concerns regarding his body type. "I think the work ethic makes them overlook that, the strong lower half. I also have a good downhill plane. Guys who are 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 don't always have that.
"There's three things that make up my durability -- it's the punching bag, the long toss and the running that I do. Everybody knows I don't have the big frame. I do have durability and I can keep my [velocity] up deep into games."
It's no doubt been helpful for Bundy to have one of those 6-foot-4 guys going through this process with him. Bundy isn't alone in Oklahoma in terms of top-flight high school talent. Archie Bradley is also expected to go pretty early, perhaps in the Top 10. They've known each other since they were 8 years old, playing with and against each other over the years to reach this juncture. Now they'll hopefully make that next step together.
"We've helped each other tremendously the last three years getting ready for the Draft," said Bundy, who will be with Bradley to watch the Draft on Monday with family and friends. "We're trying not to talk about it too much. I don't want to get my hopes up. But it's been amazing. I can talk to him about anything and he can talk to me about anything. He's going through the same thing as I am."
Assuming all goes well, they can continue comparing notes along the way. Bundy clearly has a program and a schedule in mind. Based on how structured he was as a high schooler, it shouldn't shock anyone if he follows through with it to the letter.
"The work ethic, my maturity and the way I command the baseball will help me along the way and hopefully it will get me to the big leagues faster than other high school players," Bundy said without a hint of cockiness in his voice. "My goal is to get there within three years if I get drafted this year."
Bundy chose his words carefully, making sure he wasn't putting the cart before the horse. So many things can go wrong with young pitchers as they embark on professional careers, and the Minor Leagues are littered with first-round talents who haven't fulfilled that potential. And given Bundy's unusual routines, the possibility of changes an organization might want to make to that could cause some issues. But his pitching coach does not think that's a concern for this high schooler.
"When you're the first-round baby and you go into Spring Training, everybody wants to put their stamp on you," Stump said. "You worry about that a little bit with young guys. Dylan, he's coachable, but you're going to have to earn his respect. He's not going to listen just because you said so. I don't think you have to worry about somebody screwing him up. He won't let them."