Pirates Considering Dylan Bundy

The Pirates are seriously considering Bundy.

On Friday’s weekend draft prospects preview, I looked at some of the guys the Pittsburgh Pirates were considering, mostly focusing on Anthony Rendon, Gerrit Cole, and Danny Hultzen.  At the time, we heard that the Pirates were more likely to take one of the college players, which was a report came from Jonathan Mayo.  Today, a few people, including Colin Dunlap, have mentioned that the Pirates are “seriously looking” at right handed prep pitcher Dylan Bundy for the first overall choice.

Mayo continues to suggest that the Pirates aren’t as likely to take Bundy.  Keith Law also tweeted that the Bundy rumor has been out there for a month, but that Bundy isn’t the first choice of the Pirates.

On the surface, Bundy is an intriguing option.  He’s a 6′ 1″, 200 pound right handed pitcher who has touched 100 MPH on a few occasions this year.  He mostly averages just above 95 MPH with his fastball, and his numbers look dominating.  Bundy had a 0.22 ERA in 64 innings through May 6th, along with 147 strikeouts.  In that time he only gave up two earned runs, and just 18 hits, which is incredible.  Some scouts have even said that Bundy could be a fifth starter in the major leagues today, which is quite a compliment for a prep player.

But here’s the big downside for me: he comes as a huge risk.  You don’t have to tell Pirates fans about the injury risks of pitchers.  Normally I prefer prep pitchers over college pitchers, as the prep pitchers usually haven’t been abused as much.  In Bundy’s case, there exists a big red flag that is rare for prep pitchers.  Last year, Bundy threw 181 pitches in a single day.  I will repeat that: 181 pitches in a single day.

The 181 pitches came between two games, which means he basically started both games of a double header, and averaged 90 pitches per start.  Normally pitchers take five days of rest between starts in the pros.  Prep pitchers usually pitch once a week.  Bundy pitched twice in one day.  Making matters worse, he was pitching on two days rest.  Three days earlier, Bundy threw 112 pitches in another start.  In three games, spanning four days, he combined for 293 pitches.

Bundy did take seven days off to rest after that heavy workload, and he insists that he trained for such an outing, and the outing only made him stronger.  Bundy is a guy who works out a lot, squatting up to 500 pounds, and leg pressing 1,200 pounds.  Unfortunately, that’s not how you prevent arm injuries.  You prevent them by exercising caution when the pitcher is on the mound, regardless of how hard he works out.

The motion of throwing a baseball at high speeds is unnatural.  The rotations per minute of a shoulder during a pitch isn’t what the human body was built for.  Arm injuries can develop over time, especially if you have an extreme pitch count.  Just because the pitcher doesn’t get injured right away, doesn’t mean he won’t get injured down the road as a result of the heavy workload.  Looking at the bigger picture, if Bundy was allowed to throw that much last year, how much has he thrown this year?  There’s no reassurance that this was an isolated event.

I mentioned on Twitter on Friday that I would pass on Danny Hultzen, due to his 127 pitches in seven innings in his most recent start.  You can be sure that I’d pass on Bundy.  Even if it was a year ago, 293 pitches in three games over four days is a huge red flag.  He might have a lot of talent, but that incident is a red flag that is too risky to take a chance on.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Anonymous

    It’s always good to factor in pitch count when drafting, but using that criteria Cy Young, Walter Johnson , and Satchel Paige would never be drafted. 

    • Anonymous

      It depends on the pitcher. What the pitchers delivery looks like makes a big difference in whether or not they will get injured. I’m not talking about having a ”perfect” delivery like Mark Prior(though his delivery had little to do with him being hurt), but countless other factors. I haven’t seen much of Bundy this year, but from what I have seen I am not overly worried. Hultzen and Cole, however, scare me to death. Trevor Bauer does not worry me in the slightest.  

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Citing three players in the history of the game is no defense against the pitch count argument.

      We didn’t have much coverage in those days, so it’s hard to know how many players went down with injuries.  Obviously we’re only going to remember the guys who didn’t have injuries (with the obvious exception of Tommy John), but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t factor in pitch counts and innings workloads.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

      I don’t think those kind of guys threw 90 + mph fastballs though

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQC5HKTKJ52MK7PN2CBR4JIWYQ Kevin

    Glad to see Dylan Bundy getting into the discussion.  In my view he is the best talent in the draft.

    He might be the most physical and athletic pitcher that I’ve ever seen.  I think he has a chance to advance very quickly.

    As best as I can tell Rendon has never hit a HR with a wood bat in an official game.  Yet he’s given a pass with his injury history.  Bundy has never been injured and he has the “red flag”.  I don’t think that’s being fair to both players. 

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      The fact is that pitchers are more of an injury risk than position players.  Also, if a position player gets injured, he still has a chance to play.  If a pitcher gets injured, it’s most likely going to be his arm.  If the team is lucky, it will be his elbow, which will put him on the shelf for a year.  If it’s his shoulder, there’s a strong chance he will never be the same.

      Joe Mauer has an injury history, yet he’s one of the best catchers in the game.  The reason is that, even with injuries, position players can live up to their potential.  Injuries can be career killers for pitchers.  So the idea that a pitcher has been abused, and could be at risk for an injury concerns me far more than a position player who has actually been injured.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TQC5HKTKJ52MK7PN2CBR4JIWYQ Kevin

        In many ways Bundy is the Joe Mauer of this draft.  Back in the day there was no way that Mauer could be as talented as Prior and Teixeira.  In this case  Mauer = Bundy, Cole = Prior, and Rendon = Tex.

        http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2011/05/11/dylan-bundy-hits-100-at-18/

        The same issues that apply to Bundy would presumably apply to other star pitchers such as Taillon and Heredia.

        Also FWIW Bundy has some solid stats …

        “Through May 6, Bundy, a University of Texas commit, was 10-0 with an unfathomable 0.22 ERA (and 0.36 WHIP). What’s even more mind-boggling is that he’s thrown 147 strikeouts in 64 innings and yielded just five walks – five walks.”

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          You could also say that Bubba Starling is the Joe Mauer of this draft.

          As for his issues, I don’t think Taillon or Heredia have ever thrown 293 pitches in 3 games, spanning four days.

  • http://twitter.com/Spazaru Murray Passarieu

    I’d take Trevor Bauer.  I don’t know what the problem is.  He’s been awesome all year.  He’s been better than Cole and Rendon hasn’t had much power with the new bats.   Hultzen or Bauer over Cole or Rendon.  

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      If it was all about the best numbers, Bauer and Hultzen might go 1-2.  It’s more about upside, and Cole/Rendon have more talent to give them more upside.

  • Anonymous

    We need to draft a strapping young high school arm
     

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGCKUSO5MA5VUCJHW2YSJ2K3TM Bob

    If we pick a pitcher I want Cole.  Just realized that Rendon is only 5′ 11″ 180, not great size for a MLB 3B.