In the hours leading up to the start of the 2011 First Year Player Draft, one word described the air among Orioles fans: confusion.
For weeks, Baltimore fans had seen their club connected to high school right-hander Dylan Bundy and University of Virginia lefty Danny Hultzen. On the eve of the draft, however, new rumors linking the birds to Bundy’s fellow statesman and prep right-hander Archie Bradley intensified. Members of several national media outlets reported that Baltimore had begun conversations with Bradley late in the game, sending feelers for bonus demands.
To throw another wrench in the works, Rice 3B Anthony Rendon, a lock for a top two selection over much of the season and a player heavily connected to the Seattle Mariners with the second overall pick, slid off of the top of the board. As expected, Pittsburgh selected UCLA hurler Gerrit Cole with the first pick. Unexpectedly, Seattle passed on Rendon, turning not to another position player as many had speculated, but to Danny Hultzen. The Astros picked Cole’s teammate Trevor Bauer, and both Rendon and Dylan Bundy, along with Archie Bradley, had fallen into the laps of the Orioles.
As it turned out, Rendon had further slots to fall, and the Orioles gleefully announced their selection of Orioles Nation favorite Dylan Bundy. Some 2011 inconsistencies and a less-than-sufficient medical report turned some teams off of Rendon, and Orioles Scouting Director Joe Jordan said they took who they believed was the best player available. Foregoing hesitation due to bonus demands (Bundy reportedly sent teams requests for a 5-year, $30 million dollar deal), Baltimore confidently selected an elite high school talent. The remaining rounds included a slew of college pitchers and a handful of enticing names, but the big story in the draft was the big arm at the top.
The name called by Baltimore on Monday was a familiar one. Dylan Bundy’s brother, Bobby, is currently pitching for Hi-A Frederick and was on the hill at the time of the draft. After completing the first inning, Bobby Bundy returned to the dugout to receive word via text message that his brother had been selected by the Orioles.
“I couldn’t explain or put it into words how excited I was,” Bobby told reports after the game.. “he wanted to be with me. It was kind of his wish. So it’s been a dream come true so far. Hopefully he will sign soon and be here with me in the Minors.”
Dylan and Bobby later prognosticated that they would arrive together in the Major Leagues in 2013. That might seem crazy considering that, just a few weeks ago, Dylan was finishing up his final exams during his senior year of high school. But Dylan Bundy is the rare high schooler with enough polish and feel for pitching that he could rocket through a system in short order.
With a fastball that has hit triple digits this season and sits comfortably in the 94-96 range, Dylan Bundy brings the type of heat characteristic of a power-pitching ace. He mixes in a cutter, from which he can subtract to get a more slider-esque plane, a true curve and a developing change-up. Above average command and control of a deep four pitch arsenal and plus velocity afford Bundy all the makings of a front-of-the-rotation pitcher.
College Arms Dominate Day Two
After selecting a fire-balling high school pitcher with his first round selection, Joe Jordan shifted the focus to college arms, with a few bats mixed in. The complete list of picks can be found at our 2011 Draft Tracker, but here are some quick rundowns on some of the notable selections:
Round 2: Jason Esposito (3B, Vanderbilt)
Esposito is an interesting prospect. After positioning himself well for a jump into the first round before the season, the Vanderbilt third baseman hurt his stock some with a poor showing in the wood bat Cape Cod league and an inconsistent Junior season at the plate. Some have questioned his bat speed, but he seems to have enough in the tank. He is strong enough to inside-out pitches, and can turn on fastballs every now and then. Most important will be cleaning up his approach at the plate. Early struggles led Esposito to press at times, and his plate discipline suffered for it. Still, he’s a solid defender at third and his bat presents enough upside to give Esposito the ceiling of an above average starting third baseman in the Big Leagues. As a system that does not have a good track record of developing bats, Baltimore has a nice challenge in Esposito.
Round 3: Mike Wright (RHP, Eastern Carolina University)
Mike Wright lives and dies with his fastball, a power pitch that sits 94-95 and can touch 96-97 when he reaches back. His breaking ball and change both need a good amount of work if he is to be developed as a starter, which seems to be the plan at the moment. His path could be accelerated with a switch to the bullpen, where his stuff would play nicely as a power arm for the late innings. One saving grace for his chances of starting is his ability to induce groundballs. Still, Wright will need to change speeds and eye levels better if he wishes to face ML hitters two or three times through the lineup.
Round 4: Kyle Simon (RHP, Arizona)
Simon did not light up radar guns in college, sitting 86-89, but on a more manageable pitching schedule he should be able to sit in the low-90s. He pitches out of a low 3/4 slot with good deception. With his arm angle, everything moves with good late life. With the increase in velocity, his strikeout numbers should go up. Like Wright, he’ll be developed initially as a starter, though his future might lie in the middle innings. The key to determining his future role will be his ability to command his breaking ball, a difficult feat out of such a low slot. Like Wright, Simon also wracks up the ground balls when his stuff is working.
Round 6: Nicky Delmonico (3B, Farragut High School)
It’s a good thing Delmonico was listed as at third base, because his experiment behind the plate has largely been a failure. He shows very raw actions and a weak arm at the position. He is athletic, however, and his future will be either at a corner infield or corner outfield position. Delmonico has some raw pop in his bat, and could potentially develop into an above average overall hitter. Thought to be a round 2-5 pick, Delmonico’s stock dropped due to a back injury and an inconsistent senior year. He’s told teams that he is looking for a 1.5 to 2 MM bonus, and unless he’s willing to back down some on those demands, he’ll be heading to college next year.
Round 8: Johnny Ruettiger (OF, Arizona State University)
Ruettiger was a hard player to scout because he’s largely been relegated to left field in college. He is quick enough to cover solid ground in center, however, and shows good instincts in the field as well. As a center fielder, his bat plays much better. He hits for very little power, but shows an excellent, patient approach at the plate and average to above average contact skills. In the mold of Matt Angle, Trent Mummey and Kyle Hudson, Ruettiger won’t wow you with tools, but if all goes well with his development, he could end up a starting center fielder with good on-base skills.
Round 10: Tyler Wilson (RHP, Virginia)
With its tenth overall pick, Baltimore grabbed a solid starter on an excellent Virginia team. Due to Wilson’s arm action and frame, he’s likely a reliever going forward, but he emerged as strong starter for UVA in 2011 after spending his first three seasons in the bullpen. He brings low 90s heat, some deception and good control – posting an 11/2 K/BB ratio in his senior year with the Cavaliers. He was drafted in 2010 by the Reds in the 35th round, but choose to return to UVA after a somewhat disappointing Junior season. It’s tough to imagine him holding up as a starter, but Wilson could be a nice, quickly moving relief prospect for Baltimore.
Round 12: Jason Coats (LF, Texas Christian University)
Falling all the way to the 12th round, Coats might end up Baltimore’s best value pick if he signs. He’ll look for round 3-5 money (400-500K) but could be worth every penny. An average left fielder, Coats doesn’t have much defensive value, but he might have the best bat of the Orioles 2011 draft. He posted a .361/.401/.617 line last year, and positioned himself as a bat that should go in the first two rounds. He regressed some to .325/.403/.518 this season, leading some to label him a product of the old college bats. While his power numbers were down (as were those of NCAA in general), there were some encouraging signs. He showed the best plate discipline of his career, striking out less and walking more. There seems to be some real power in there if it can be harnessed at the next level, and when all is said and done Coats could provide an above average ML bat.