Rick Peterson, meet Dylan Bundy. Dylan, Rick. And Baltimore Orioles, meet a new pitching philosophy.
For an organization with young, talented arms who haven't yet put it together at the Major League level, a new regime in the form of executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette -- and now director of pitching development Peterson -- will try a few things a bit differently.
Peterson, of course, was the pitching coach for the great Oakland A's staffs of the early 2000s, when "The Big Three" of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito and Mark Mulder stayed healthy and buoyed an entire organization through season after season of success despite a famously low payroll. Peterson has also had positions with the Mets, and more recently, the Milwaukee Brewers.
And Bundy, the club's first-round pick (fourth overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, fits in perfectly with the philosophy that Peterson preaches, which is centered around the findings of noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews.
Bundy, a 19-year-old power right-hander who was drafted out of Owasso (Okla.) High School, is a strong proponent of the old-school conditioning method of long-tossing from great distances and with great arc. He is so committed to it, in fact, that reports surfaced that he told teams that limit long-tossing to 120 feet not to draft him. Bundy also has been known to use a punching bag, which some might consider unconventional.
But Bundy has found a like-minded thinker in Peterson, who swears by such arm-strengthening methods and is convinced that Andrews' teachings prolong careers and help prevent injury. This, Peterson says, is something he will stress throughout Baltimore's Minor League ranks.
"There's been quite a bit of injury throughout the organization, so my thinking is that it's something that can really be improved upon," Peterson said. "We can be forward-thinking about this. We can cut down on the ridiculous amount of money that is wasted when all these high-priced pitchers are on the disabled list.
"And when you prepare better and prevent injury better, you're going to get better performance."
Top 20 Prospects
Along with Bundy at the top of the Orioles' list, there is a logjam of position players poised to make 2012 a year to remember within the Baltimore system. Shortstop Manny Machado, the club's first-round pick (third overall) in 2010, made it to Class A Advanced at the age of 18 despite a knee injury. The team loves his upside and expects his bat to come around. The same could be said for infielder Jonathan Schoop, a Curacao native who has shown more offensively than Machado to date but might be in line for a position switch.
Third baseman Nick Delmonico, a sixth-round pick out of high school in 2011, has shown power potential, and outfielder Glynn Davis, who made it to Class A Advanced last year at the age of 19, has turned heads with his raw tools, including blazing speed on the basepaths. Third baseman Jonathan Esposito, a second-rounder in '11, is further along with the glove than he is with the bat.
orioles' top prospects
Under the radar
Right-hander Sebastian Vader, whom the Orioles selected from San Marcos (Calif.) High School in 2010, started 11 games in the Gulf Coast League last year, and he impressed with athleticism and a deceptive delivery that seemed to add a few ticks to an otherwise average fastball.
Lefty Tim Berry, whom Baltimore plucked from the same high school as Vader in 2009, has rebounded from Tommy John surgery and has touched 93 mph with his fastball. Berry made 26 starts last year, proving that he's healthy, and showed enough that organizational insiders are expecting a lot more from him this year.
Hitter of the Year
Schoop combined for a .290/.349/.432 line at stops at Class A Delmarva and Frederick, finally getting a full season of at-bats (511 total). He hit 13 home runs and drove in 71 runs, which bodes well for 2012.
Pitcher of the Year
Bundy, whose fastball has hit 100 mph, is expected to be a quick riser through the system, thanks in large part to a work ethic that seems to match his natural talent.