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August 16, 2011

Dylan Bundy is an Oriole (updated with Jordan quotes)

The Orioles expected their negotiations with Dylan Bundy to go right down to Monday night's midnight deadline for signing 2011 draft picks.

There were some anxious moments, but the Orioles agreed to terms with the fourth overall pick about five minutes before the deadline on a five-year major league contract, starting in 2012, that includes a $4 million signing bonus.

Catcher Matt Wieters set a franchise record with a $6 million bonus after the Orioles made him the fifth overall pick out of Georgia Tech in 2007, and it was widely expected that Bundy would threaten that mark.

Orioles director of amateur scouting Joe Jordan said Baseball America's report that Bundy got a guaranteed $6.225 million is "in the ballpark."

"When you just get down to the player, a special kid, a special talent. Very driven," Jordan said. "He has every intangible that the really, really good players have. Barring injury, we agreed to terms with a very special player. It's because of talent. I know this kid, I know his intangibles. I think this is a kid that is not afraid to be really, really good. It's a good night."

It was a successful night all around for Jordan, who finalized deals with the team's top three targets. The Orioles agreed to terms with second-round selection Jason Esposito, a third baseman out of Vanderbilt on a $600,000 deal and a $1.525 million deal with sixth-round pick Nick Delmonico, a Tennessee prep third baseman who was the wild card of the team's draft because he was looking for first-round money.

"It was an amazing day," Jordan said. "We played it in the order we wanted. A lot of things happened the way we thought they would. [Director of baseball operations] Matt Klentak was tremendous. We got everything we wanted today, and we had all the support like we always do from [president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail] and [owner Peter Angelos]. I don't know how else it could have been a better day."

Overall, the Orioles agreed to terms with 22 of their 50 picks, including all of their top 10. Jordan said early in the process that he expected to sign about 20 of the club's selections because the club eliminated one of its teams in the Dominican Republic, along with its Rookie-level Bluefield affiliate.

Jordan also knew that a big chunk of the draft budget would go to Bundy, a right-handed starter considered the best high school pitcher available. Some baseball pundits labeled him as having the most upside in the draft.

The 18-year-old went 11-0 with an 0.20 ERA as a senior at Owasso High in Oklahoma and struck out 595 batters while posting an ERA under 1.00 during his high school career. In 71 innings as a senior, he allowed just two earned runs, 20 hits and five walks while striking out 158. As a hitter, he batted .467 with 11 homers and 54 RBIs in 105 at-bats.

The Orioles see Bundy as the potential top-of-the-rotation starter they have long been seeking. Known for his highly sophisticated training and weightlifting regimen, Bundy has a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s, and he reportedly hit 100 mph this spring. He also throws a hard cut fastball, a biting curve and a developing changeup.

Bundy immediately becomes the Orioles' top pitching prospect. He'll also join an organization that includes his older brother, Bobby, who is pitching for Double-A Bowie. Bobby Bundy, an eighth-round selection in 2008, is one of the front-runners this year for the Jim Palmer Award, given annually to the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

The Orioles knew Dylan Bundy, the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, would be tough to sign. Before the draft, he made it known that he was looking for a $30 million signing bonus, which would have doubled the biggest one given out, the $15.1 million awarded to phenom Stephen Strasburg by the Washington Nationals in 2009.

Asked whether the $30 million figure was accurate on the night of the draft, Bundy said in a conference call with Baltimore reporters, "I guess so, huh?"

Both sides, however, knew that figure wasn't realistic, and Jordan maintained that he didn't plan to set any records in signing Bundy, who had committed to pitch for the University of Texas.

Jordan, who is in the final year of his contract, has signed all seven of his first-round picks since becoming the Orioles' director of amateur scouting.

Because Bundy signed a major league deal, he'll go directly onto the 40-man roster and be at big league spring training in February. When the Orioles send him to the minors before the 2012 season, he'll use the first of his three or four options. Once those options are up, the Orioles would have to pass him through waivers to send him to the minor leagues.

Essentially, a major league deal could accelerate a player's timetable to reach the big leagues and force the Orioles' hand, sort of like it did with Loewen when he had to be in the majors or the Orioles would have risked losing him to waivers.

Esposito, who agreed to a deal worth $30,000 more than the slot recommendation, batted .341 with nine homers and 59 RBIs in 65 games for a Vanderbilt team that made the College World Series. He's considered an above-average defender at third base.

Delmonico, who was believed to be a solid commitment to the University of Georgia, was considered first- or second-round talent by some draft pundits, but he fell to the 185th overall pick.

Delmonico played catcher at Farragut High. However, the Orioles project him as a third baseman. At 6 feet 3, 215 pounds, Delmonico's best tool is his bat. He batted .426 with 11 homers, 45 RBIs, 53 walks and 23 steals in leading Farragut to a fourth consecutive Class AAA state championship.

The Orioles completed their draft class by signing 26th-rounder Zach Davies, an Arizona prep pitcher who got a $575,000 deal.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 12:41 AM | | Comments (10)
        

Comments

I woke up this morning expecting the worse, figuring we'd probably only sign Espisito. But all 3?! That's a successful draft. Say what you will about the Orioles bad luck with the draft, and Jordan but they came through big time.

Esposito got "screwed" with $600k if Delmonico got $1.525 million and 26th rounder Davies got nearly as much. He'll probably be angry that he was the higher pick but got less and will not play well.


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Jeff Z"s reply: I'm sure Jason knew what was going on behind him and if he was so outraged over it, he wouldn't have signed.

Jeff,

I hate to say it but I have seen this movie many times before, and columns like you wrote many times before. Highly touted prospects down to the wire negotiations, deals done at the stroke of midnight, everybody exhales and goes home, a good day had by all. Not to trivialize your work, it is excellent reporting, but redundant in that the theme is the same year after year and so are the end results. It's like paying cash for a new BMW and then letting your local backyard grease monkey do all of the service work.

As with those before them, these prospects will fall into the black hole the Orioles call player development. Maybe these three will be different. Maybe before they can be ruined, Andy Macphail and the entire front office will be turned over, and dozens of competent minor league coaches hired by a new regime.

But I doubt it.

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Jeff Z's reply: So the Orioles should have just passed on their first-round pick and not taken anybody because he is going to be a bust anyway?

Jeff,

I have a 16 year old son who is already being scouted in high school, and if he ever is good enough and lucky enough to sign a professional contract, it won't be with the Orioles. Their history of ruining and failing to develop young talent over many years is unarguable.

Gil, I'm not going to argue with you the relative merits of the Orioles player development system, except to say that no team graduates every one of its prospects, just doesn't happen. But, the turn around has to start somewhere.

I don't think you can say that most Orioles farm hands are ruined, as you seem to insinuate. Many guys are doing just fine, as evidenced by the success they are having in Bowie and Frederick. Norfolk is what it is, but the prospects there, Hudson, Angle, Adams, and Widlansky, to name four, are having good years. And Rick Vandenhurk tossed six shutout last night, giving up four hits, and striking out 13 to get the win.

I saw Bowie on Sunday, when they got swept in a DH. They did not look like a first place team, but the fact remains, they are a first pace team, and have several solid players, all developed by the Orioles. Mahoney, Miclat, Hoes, Joseph, Waring has 18 HRs, Florimon has shown himself to be an outstanding defensive SS and leads the team in RBI, Avery has speed to burn, Buck Britton is a gritty, Dustin Pedroia type. The starter in the first game, Bascom, was routinely in the low 90s, Chorye Spoon pitched and was topping out at 95 after arm troubles. Even the new 1B obtained from Pittsburgh, Baker, crushed one to the gap in left center, in his second game at AA. And don't forget that Bundy the elder is on the Baysox staff.

Frederick has the best record in A+ Carolina League, and one of the best records in all of A+, with Machado, Schoop, Ward, et al doing very well.

The Orioles DSL and GCL teams are both well above 500, the ERA for the GCL team is 1.89. That's for the team, after 49 games.

Sure there are some road bumps down on the farm, Delmarva has no offense, and the Ironbirds looked like they might be overmatched, being a rookie ball team playing against A players in the second or third years. But even they have their moments.

The point to all of this, Gil, is that if you took the time to go see these guys, and I have seen them all except for Norfolk, and kept up with their numbers, you will see that not all is horrid on the farm. And with the addition of the four new guys, next year should be even better for the Orioles minor leagues, which of course bodes very well for the big league team.

Bundy was a great pick. Even Law says the kid has more upside than any pitcher in the draft. Delmonico in the sixth round signed for round 2 money.
Esposito, maybe a bit of a push in Rd 2 according to some, but at least the kid knows how to play and isn't the 'project' type. Can't say they cheaped out in the draft. I'm gonna say that if these kids don't get to the majors, the player development folks need to take a walk. These 3 are ballplayers.

Hobgood in retrospect looks like a project. Givens ends up back at Aberdeen to join him. Maybe Hobgood looks at Bundy and starts to figure things out. Who knows.

Sad to say, it's probably going to take another couple of drafts like this one to begin really thinning the herd at the AA and AAA ranks. Just not enough talent in Bowie right now to move out the guys just hanging out in Norfolk. The guys in Frederick are young for that league and need to stay right there.

(And somebody get Xavier Avery into a year round baseball league! There's a kid with some raw talent making some nice strides this year. All that kid needs is reps, and alot of reps against lefties. Someone introduce him to Tony Gwynn.)

This organization has to figure this stuff out sooner rather than later. This and last year's were good draft classes.

ken,

When I travel I get to see a lot of minor league baseball. I saw Zach Britton pitch 6 times last year between Bowie and Norfolk. ken, I have posted the decade long list of ballyhooed yet failed Orioles pitching prospects before so I won't do it again, but it is stunning. My point is that the team can't seem to develop position players or pitching prospects in numbers to get out of last place. And they have had going on 14 years to do it. There are no impact quality position players who are and imminently promotable in the system. Maybe some of these kids will eventually develop and shine despite being subject to poor coaching and teaching in the minor leagues. I do admire you for being the eternal optimist. They should let you speak at the next fanfest rather than Andy. You have more credibility and believability. When I watch Andy speak, I sense that he doesn't believe what he is saying.

Gil, thanks for the compliment, I think.

I'm not going to get into an argument with you about player development. I'd lose. But, I have had occasion to speak to many of the guys charged with devloping players, and frankly, their knowledge of the game far surpasses yours and mine put together. The Orioles people are well respected around the game, and the failures of some of the Orioles top prospects over the past six or eight years, well some of it has to be put on the kids, too.

Not every prospect makes it, or makes it as big as we thought they would. That's always a fear. The Orioles are no exception, and since they're here, and they have 14 years of futility, their credibility is open to question. There has been some serious turnover amongst the minor league staffs in recent years, which has undoubtedly added to the perception that the Orioles can't develop anyone.

Joe Jordan targeted the guys he really wanted in this draft, and got them signed. It's a crapshoot really, Dave Johnson of MASN, for example, thinks it's a good possibility that Bundy will end up with his arm in a sling. But the guys coming into the system can't help but make it better.

And, as I stated previously, there are some gems on the farm, guys who should end up being productive major leaguers. It's not all bad is all I'm trying to say.

Srry Ken,

Oriole people by and large are not respected in the game. You are being fooled.

There is nothing to be respected for. If you say you work for the orioles, you get a polite nod, not a respected one.

It does explain your lobe for the team no matter how flawed the product. You are incredibly biased and it shows.

Jeff,

Why is it you always miss Gils point? You fail to ever see a realistic point of view. Instead, you are combative towards any negativity. Maybe you should step back once in a while. You seem to have lost any objectivity. You shouldn't make friends with those in the front office or organization. It's showing up too much lately.

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Jeff Z's reply: I get Gil's point plenty. Trust me, I get enough opportunities to digest it. And to call me combatative is ridiculous. From time-to-time, I question somebody, but I mostly let everyone have their say and answer questions that are asked.

It is great news that we signed the three players that we really wanted. I only wish that we had not signed Bundy to a Major League contract. As terrible as the O's pitching has been, if he is anywhere close to his High school numbers, he will ascend to the Major leagues by age 21. What he does not need is the added pressure to perform, and the O's feeling the need to promote him before he is ready. I hope he turns out to be the top of the rotation pitcher every projects but it is so difficult to translate high school performance to effectiveness at the Major League level. We can only hope that he turns out to be a good one for the O's. How cool would it be to have the Dylan boys manning our rotation?

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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