Down on the farm, Manny Machado has shown flashes of greatness at Double-A Bowie and 19-year-old Dylan Bundy is embarrassing batters with the Shorebirds in Delmarva.
On Tuesday night, Bundy extended his hitless innings streak to 9. He has now retired 27 of his first 28 batters faced in his pro career, struck out 15 and (obviously) hasn’t allowed a run. So things are good, right?
Well, not according to ESPN.com’s Keith Law.
“Dylan Bundy should have started his professional career in Double-A, that’s a mistake by the Orioles,” Law said on his podcast, Baseball Today. “It’s only be compounded by the fact that they are leaving him in Low-A, two levels below where he should be, and they’re not stretching him out. He’s going three innings, that’s not a starter’s workload.”
Law said that Bundy should be turning Minor League lineups over twice. “If you want to limit him and say he’s only going to go 15 to 18 batters per outing, I’m completely fine with that.”
“But I think they’re really babying him,” he added.
If he were calling the shots, Law would have started Bundy at Bowie to begin the 2012 season. “I think they’ve dug a hole for themselves, it’s going to be hard for them to dig their way out of it because of where they chose to start him and how little they are actually using him.”
The Orioles have been criticized for rushing their young pitchers through the farm system too early in year’s past. Now it appears experts are being critical of them for being too cautious.
“We’ve got these excessively low pitch counts, even though there’s really no evidence that low pitch counts lead to fewer injuries,” Law said. “We know high pitch counts lead to more injuries, but we don’t know that the other is true.”
I’m certainly no expert in producing young arms, but if high pitch counts lead to more injuries, then don’t we know that low pitch counts don’t?
“My understanding is [that] the biggest risk of injury is when a pitcher is pitching tired, when his arm is already fatigued. And, I don’t think that a particular starter is getting fatigued after pitch 50, he’s getting fatigued well after pitch 100.”
Personally, I’m happy to see the Orioles not rushing the guy. This farm system needs to get to a place where they call on pitchers when they’ve earned a promotion, not when the team needs someone to eat six innings. Keeping Bundy at Low-A at age 19 doesn’t seem like it’s as damaging as Law makes it out to be. Given the option of overworking the kid, I’d rather see him throw three shutout innings in Delmarva than get burnt out. But, that’s just me.