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.