Bundy, Gausman blazing a trail to join Machado in Baltimore
By Brittany Ghiroli
BOSTON -- Under executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, the Orioles have continued to accumulate pitching depth, with the hope being that the club can continue to sustain the success of 2012 with a strong pipeline to the Major Leagues.
Two of those young arms who are expected to help sooner rather than later are right-handers Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, who are grouped together so frequently that Gausman joked this spring that fans can't mention one in a sentence without the other.
And for good reason. Gausman, who was the fourth overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, was exceptional in his first Major League Spring Training and lasted until the final week, as the organization was impressed with his maturity and repertoire. Bundy, the Orioles' top pick in 2011, made his Major League debut last year after pitching at three different Minor League levels and is rated as the club's No. 1 prospect -- Gausman is second -- and No. 2 in all of baseball.
where to watch
Where the O's Top 20 prospects are starting the season:
Click here for the complete Top 20 list on Prospect Watch.
Bundy has yet to pitch for Double-A Bowie this season, shelved with right elbow discomfort, perhaps the reason for his dipped velocity this spring. The organization has him progressing slowly on a strength and rehab program, though he has been throwing pain-free of late.
Does that mean Gausman, a more polished pitcher as a 22-year-old college arm, is ahead of the 20-year-old Bundy in the pecking order?
"He's certainly an option for a team later in the year," Duquette said. "Bundy has progressed nicely. So I guess that's part of having a more established Major League pitching team [than last year]; we have a couple of young starters on the horizon, too.
"They are both very capable pitchers and both can be winning Major League pitchers. They are both where they should be at Double-A, and they'll continue to progress."
And their progression will be closely monitored. Minor League Baseball is under way, and you can keep track of the Orioles' top prospects throughout the season on MLBPipeline.com and Prospect Watch. Get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of the team's Minor League teams on MLBPipeline.com/Orioles.
Duquette showed last year he isn't afraid to pluck a young prospect from Double-A, promoting infielder Manny Machado in August and having him move from shortstop to third base. Machado has taken on the transition better than anyone could have expected, making his first Opening Day roster as the Orioles' starting third baseman this spring. If Gausman and Bundy post solid results at Double-A, they could follow suit this season.
"I still believe Double-A is the proving ground," Duquette said. "Personally, I like to see players go to Double-A and succeed. If the team has a need, we can always bring the player from Double-A if they've got a foundation [and] have experienced some success there."
Top position player prospect Jonathan Schoop is at Triple-A Norfolk this year and is coming off a successful stint playing for Team Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. Schoop, the team's No. 4 prospect, could also be an option for the big league club this season and will continue to play multiple positions.
Gausman and Bundy aren't the only attractions tabbed for Double-A Bowie, with outfielder Xavier Avery -- the club's No. 7 prospect -- also playing there this season. With an influx of outfielders in Major League camp, Avery joins Lew Ford, who was signed out of the independent leagues last season, as potential options for an Orioles club that had more roster transactions than games played last year.
Debuts and Draftees
Cuban outfielder Henry Urrutia is about a week behind the rest of the Minor Leaguers in terms of his schedule, and his arrival from Haiti this spring was much anticipated. Urrutia is expected to start his professional career at Double-A Bowie.
After pitching in four games for short-season Aberdeen last year, local product Branden Kline is pitching for Class A Delmarva to start 2013. Kline was the organization's second-round pick after Gausman last year.
New kids on the block
Urrutia's signing, which includes a $778,500 bonus, gives the Orioles a bona fide outfield prospect who could reach Baltimore by year's end. Scouted and recommended by national cross-checker Danny Haas and the legendary Fred Ferreira -- who is most recently responsible for Orioles righty Miguel Gonzalez -- Urrutia is a 26-year-old left-handed hitter with a 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame and plenty of potential.
Left-handed pitcher Mike Belfiore, acquired from Arizona to complete the Josh Bell trade, is coming off an impressive Arizona Fall League campaign in which he played, along with Schoop, in the Rising Stars Game. Belfiore was also in Major League Spring Training, having been added to the team's 40-man roster over the winter, and is part of Norfolk's bullpen to start the season.
Teams on TV
The Norfolk Tides and Aberdeen IronBirds are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2013 MiLB.TV package will include more than 3,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.