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Bundy brothers take superb work ethic to O's

Bundy brothers take superb work ethic to O's

Bundy brothers take superb work ethic to O's
BALTIMORE -- It would go like this for hours. They would dig and dig, two smalls sets of hands slowly piling clumps of dirt into the wheelbarrow they pushed and pulled across a sprawling 20 acres of Oklahoma land.

The holes would be filled back in later, as more shoveling and packing -- in unloading the contents of the weighted wheelbarrow -- kept the labor at a steady, arduous level along the spacious Sperry, Okla., property.

It was a task reminiscent of a full-time roadside construction crew, except these workers were Bobby and Dylan Bundy, neither of whom had yet reached their 10th birthday.

"I know it sounds extreme," Denver Bundy said of the physical toil inflicted on his young sons, which also included using an axe to cut down some of the family's plentiful pecan trees and splitting wood. "It was extreme to their friends and friends' parents to hear about these kids doing this stuff at 7, 8, 9 years old. But trust me, it's nothing compared to what they put themselves through now."

Yes, the Bundy's fierce work ethic has become well-documented in Oklahoma, spreading nationally thanks to their rigorous boxing workout on YouTube, and gaining even more steam as Dylan's right arm -- which threw a baseball that hit 100 mph on a radar gun this spring -- became one of the biggest headlines surrounding Monday's First-Year Player Draft.

"The stories are true," Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan, an Oklahoman himself, said of the younger Bundy, who joined the same organization as his brother when Baltimore selected Dylan with the fourth overall pick.

And there are a lot of these stories, with detailed reports ranging from Bundy's pure strength -- he squats 500 pounds and can leg press up to 1,200 -- to his love for long toss, and a vigilant nutrition commitment that involves swearing off red meat, having just one carbonated beverage a week and carrying around a gallon of water everywhere he goes.

An Owasso, Okla., standout, the younger Bundy -- whose family moved after his sophomore year to allow him to transfer from a 3A to a much bigger 6A school district -- created a mini-firestorm when he threw 181 pitches in a single day. The epic outing was due to a doubleheader, and by the end of things, the powerful right-hander -- considered far and away the best prep arm in the country -- was still clocking in at 95 mph.

"That's what's amazing with him -- he's gotten better every year," Owasso pitching coach Jason Stump said of Bundy, whom he first laid on eyes on from the stands as the then-sophomore at Sperry High School tossed a no-hitter that was the best high school pitching performance Stump had ever seen.

"You think, 'How can he keep getting better?'" Stump said of Bundy, who allowed just two earned runs in his senior season and averaged 2.23 strikeouts per inning. "He just shocks you."

Like the time they were playing a tournament in Bartlesville, Okla., and Bundy's first words off the mound -- after tossing a one-hitter, no less -- were directed at Stump: Would he unlock the school's gym the next morning?

Bundy, who arrived in Owasso around 11:45 that night with the team bus, needed to get his run in before they departed for the next morning's scheduled doubleheader.

"He was up at the field at 5:30 a.m. after getting home at midnight," Stump said. "Everybody would understand, 'Hey go play the two games and run afterwards.' But he said, 'I got to do what I got to do.' It just really put it in perspective how driven and how professional and businesslike he is with the way he does things.

"Usually kids that are at that high of a level don't keep improving. Who knows where the plateau is for him? To be honest, I wouldn't bet against him."

It's been done, but it's only made Dylan better. When Bobby -- who is currently a pitching for the Orioles' Class A Frederick affiliate -- was first being followed by clubs, a Major League scout told the 14-year-old Dylan that he would never be quite as big in stature or as good of a prospect as his older brother. Dylan did some things well, the scout said comfortingly, but it was just a real shame he would never have the fastball velocity of his older brother.

"Dylan really took that to heart," said Denver, who had watched his 5-year-old son nearly turn blue in the face because he refused to let his opponent pin him in a youth wrestling tournament. "That [scout] made Dylan work and do all the things that he's done, because he wasn't going to accept that."

"When he sets his mind to something, he's going to do it," said Bobby, who was admittedly hesitant when he heard of his brother's goal this past offseason -- to hit 100 mph on the radar gun.

"I know he's capable of doing many things, but that's definitely a different milestone," said Bobby, who was the Orioles' eighth-round pick in 2008. "But he did it. He does the things he says he's going to do. He really devoted himself to being able to throw 100."

The talent was always there, evident from the first time an 8-year-old Dylan took the mound in the 9-year-old league and struck out the first five batters he faced. But it wasn't until the summer after eighth grade that his older brother's work ethic and constant preaching started to sink in.

"It was like something clicked," Bobby said of Dylan, who began to willingly join him and Denver in the gym, starting an overhaul that now has scouts praising his conditioning. "He started buying muscle magazines, he started taking protein supplements and just really ran with it. Before we knew it he was in the gym two to three hours a day. Then he took up power lifting his freshman year, and things just really took off."

From that moment, Denver -- who used to watch the power lifters who came into the Ultimate Fitness he owned in Tulsa, Okla. -- never had to tell Dylan to work out again.

Nowadays, he's more apt to tell his ultra-competitive sons, who strive to hit the punching bag hard enough to knock each other down -- an effect that often causes the roof to shake -- to take a day to rest. It's a request that typically falls on deaf ears, a rare occurrence given that no one in the family can recall an incident where either Bobby or Dylan tried to rebel.

"I think maybe because dad might have scared us out of it," Bobby said, laughing as he recalled their early days in Sperry. "If we got in trouble, we had to go chop down 10 trees instead of two."

"[The punishment would be] extra running and extra working out, stuff like that. That was how he did it. It worked, obviously. [Dylan is] a very good kid, got a good head on his shoulders, and just really knows where his priorities are and where his place is in life."

Right now, that's with the Orioles, an organization that hopes to work out a deal that will convince Dylan to forgo college and join Bobby in what is expected to be an "accelerated pace" through the Minor Leagues. Numerous Draft analysts have Bobby projected to compete for a spot in the Orioles' rotation as early as 2013, a scenario that the brothers had been talking about for weeks, and one that became a reality shortly before 7:30 p.m. ET on Monday.

"I kind of got emotional," the typically stoic Dylan said of watching his name flash up on the Orioles' Draft screen. "I started to tear up a little bit, because the first thing I thought of was my brother, because he's in the organization and I dreamed of playing with him -- and it's actually happening."


"I kind of got emotional. I started to tear up a little bit because the first thing I thought of was my brother, because he's in the organization and I dreamed of playing with him -- and it's actually happening."
-- Dylan Bundy on being drafted by the same organization as his brother, Bobby

Denver, who was also trying to monitor Bobby's start by his cell phone's radio transmission, started calling a few of the Frederick players to try to relay the message. Fortunately his son already had several people on the job, and Bobby was given the good news when he came into the dugout after the first inning.

"I couldn't explain or put it into words how excited I was," said Bobby, who went on to pick up his team-leading sixth win while in a state of shock. "It was almost a sigh of relief ... [Dylan] wanted to be with me, it was kind of his wish. So it's been a dream come true so far. Hopefully he will sign soon and be here with me in the Minors."

The brothers, who talk several times a week and text message daily, have always had a strong kinship, starting with those early days lugging around piles of dirt in Sperry. In Bobby's first game back from a knee injury his senior year, they belted back-to-back homers, a feat accomplished four or five times before the season was through. The Bundy family will proudly tell you about a back-to-back middle-of-the-order punch that never got old, and one that Dylan wants to see -- this time on the mound -- someday at Camden Yards.

"I've been proud of them for a long time," said Denver, who calls his sons' first back-to-back homer game one of the most fun moments he's experienced as a father. "I think it is a little bit of a dream stage for them now. Reality will come around soon, but I don't think it's anything more than what they can handle."

"We're getting a package deal," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who joked that the organization should find out if the Bundys have any more siblings -- they do have three half-brothers -- and add them to the organization.

"Hopefully we can get [Dylan] in the fold and get on with his career," Showalter said Monday. "Joe's been in the house with him, and spoke with him and his family. That's as much of an evaluator as the skill set. And the skill set's pretty impressive."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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