Dylan Bundy became the first Oriole in 45 years to make his major league debut before age 20.
And now he's on the fast track to join Baltimore's starting rotation.
The right-hander from Owasso is the No. 2 prospect in all of minor league baseball according to Baseball America. He's the highest-rated pitcher, with only Texas shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar ahead of him in the No. 1 spot.
For Bundy, who is one of more than 120 players and coaches with Oklahoma ties who have reported to Major League Baseball training camps, the goal is to make the Orioles' rotation out of spring training. That's a long shot. Bundy most likely will start the season in Double-A.
But he was so dominant in his first professional season at age 19, it will be intriguing to see if a pitcher that young can earn a spot in the Orioles' rotation later this season.
“It seemed like it was just yesterday that Dylan was here pitching for us, then last season he was in the Futures game and pitched in the big leagues,” said Owasso coach Larry Turner. “He's the real deal.”
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Bundy didn't sign until August, receiving a reported $6.2 million bonus.
Bundy didn't make his pro debut until last April, but he quickly rose through the system.
Pitching at three levels, Bundy went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA, recording 119 strikeouts while issuing only 28 walks. He made 23 starts, logging 103 2/3 innings with Delmarva (low A), Frederick (high A) and Bowie (Double-A).
Then, he got a brief taste of the big leagues late in the season. Called up in late September, Bundy made two relief appearances. His major league debut was at Fenway Park in Boston. He also pitched at Baltimore's Camden Yards.
He threw only 1 2/3 innings with the O's. Still, it was a rare accomplishment for someone so young, a player who was pitching for Owasso at the Class 6A state tournament just 16 months earlier.
“It was such a historic ballpark to make your debut,” Bundy said. “Then it was cool to see the crowd at home react the way they did. It was a blessing and keeps me humble to be up there at such a young age, seeing guys I've been watching on TV for 15 years.”
Turner wasn't surprised the Orioles twice promoted Bundy just to challenge him.
In his senior year at Owasso, Bundy recorded 158 strikeouts and walked only five. His only hit by pitch was intentional at the state tournament to prevent a Sand Springs runner from stealing third.
“His makeup is unparalleled,” Turner said. “He gets it. He's very dedicated, the hardest working player I've ever seen. He has it figured out which is rare for someone that age. He has great command of all his pitches.”
The Orioles prohibited Bundy from throwing his cutter last season, but he will probably add that pitch to his arsenal this spring.
It's an impressive arsenal. He routinely throws in the mid-90s. He throws two- and four-seam fastballs, and he has a curveball that still needs work and an improving changeup.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Bundy credits his father, Denver, for teaching him the nuances of each pitch, emphasizing the importance of hitting your spots, throwing strikes.
“I owe it all to my dad,” Bundy said. “We just really worked on keeping the ball low in the zone. That's the key, keeping the ball down and being consistent with your off-speed pitches.”
Another family member has helped Bundy's meteoric rise through Baltimore's system. His brother Bobby, who is three years older than Dylan, also is in the Orioles system. An eighth-round selection in 2008, Bobby made 17 starts last season with Double-A Bowie.
The 23-year-old Bobby didn't enjoy the same success as Dylan last season, going 2-11 with a 6.25 ERA, but he has made 84 appearances in five minor league seasons.
“He's been a huge influence,” Dylan Bundy said. “He keeps me grounded and lets me know where I stand. He's helped me a lot with what to expect, what to do and what not to do, how to respect people.”
Bundy's performance in his first pro season has scouts raving about his long-term potential. It won't be long before he joins young stars Manny Machado and Matt Weiters at Camden Yards.
The Orioles ended a 17-year playoff drought last season. Bundy was with the team during the tension-filled final 10 days of the season.
“It was so awesome to see the competitiveness in that clubhouse,” Bundy said. “It's a team that really wants to win and did win. Hopefully that carries on for a long time.
“I can't wait to get started this season. My goal is to fight for a starting job right with the Orioles out of spring training. If I don't that will just make me work harder in Double-A or Triple-A, wherever they put me.”