Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy is arguably the top pitching prospect in baseball and has advanced to Double-A as a 19-year-old after beginning the season at low Single-A.
Jim Thome was on hand for the 2011 first-round pick’s Double-A debut earlier this week, sitting behind home plate while on the disabled list for a herniated disk in his neck, and the future Hall of Famer came away extremely impressed:
He might be one of the best young pitchers I’ve seen in quite a while. He’s got so much upside to him. He looks like a great pitcher. He’s got a great arm, and it’s fun. It’s fun going down there seeing him. He’s obviously got a big, bright career ahead of him.
Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that Thome made the trek to Bowie at the request of Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who wanted a first-hand report. And here’s the thing about Thome being so impressed by Bundy: It was one of his worst starts, as he allowed three runs on five hits and three walks in 5.1 innings.
Overall this season–his first as a pro–Bundy has a 2.01 ERA and 106/22 K/BB ratio in 90 innings.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.