Scouts On Bundy and Gausman
The importance of Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman needing to have big years for the 2018 Orioles can’t be overstated.
The right-handers are the only certainties in the rotation even though pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Sarasota next week. Furthermore, the Orioles’ pitching staff is further weakened by closer Zach Britton expected to sit out until at last the All-Star break while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
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Thus, it seems impossible to envision the Orioles being contenders without Bundy and Gausman playing major roles.
However, in the eyes of an executive from another American League East team — who asked that his name not be used because of competitive reasons — Bundy and Gausman — who were each selected with the fourth overall pick in the amateur draft —- provide the Orioles with plenty of hope after finishing last in the division in 2017. Gausman was drafted in 2010 from LSU and Bundy was chosen the following year from Owasso (Okla.) High School.
“For me, they are two talented young pitchers with the arrow pointing up for both” the exec said. “I think they are both poised for breakouts. These guys were premium draft picks and have elite arms. Player development isn’t always linear. Sometimes it takes a while for guys to reach their potential. I see both stepping up to the next level this year.”
Thought it seems like he has been around forever after making his major-league debut with a pair of relief appearances in 2012 when he was 19, Bundy is just 25. He logged his first full season as a starting pitcher in the majors last year after myriad arm injuries and had a 13-9 record with a 4.24 ERA/4.38 FIP/1.19 WHIP, 8.1 SO/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9.
The 27-year-old Gausman’s 34 starts tied for the major-league lead last year in an otherwise rookie season. He was 9-12 with a 4.68 ERA/4.48 FIP/1.49 WHIP, 8.6 SO/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9. Gausman did finishing on a good note, though, going 6-5 with a 2.70 in last his last 14 starts.
We surveyed scouts from three different major-league organization and they agreed with the executive’s “arrow pointing up” assessment. Here are their assessments of Bundy and Gausman:
Scout No. 1
On Bundy: “He’s missed a lot of time because of injuries and that has obviously slowed his development. I liked what I saw of him last year, especially in the second half. His stats weren’t necessarily much better in the second half but he was getting ahead in the count more often, throwing more strikes in general and looked a lot more confident against left-handed hitters that he did in the past. His mound presence was so much better.”
On Gausman: “He’s starting to figure out how to be a starting pitcher at the big-league level. His first instinct was always to throw hard, harder and harder yet. Getting knocked around in the first half last year seemed to sound an alarm. He started throwing more sliders and splitters — which is a good pitch for him — and started getting much better results. He’s a bright guy and I thought he’d figured out sooner, but I think he’s finally on his way.”
Scout No. 2
On Bundy: “I saw him back in high school and thought he might wind up in Cooperstown. That’s the kind of potential he had. His stuff isn’t as good as used to be after all the shoulder and elbow problems, but he has learned how to survive without throwing 100 mph. If he keeps throwing strikes like he did last year, he’s going to win a lot of games. My only concern, of course, is injury. That will be a concern, unfortunately.”
On Gausman: “I thought he was poised for a breakout last year based on how he finished 2016 but then he laid an egg in the first half. I was encouraged by what I saw in the second half. He made some mechanical adjustments and his split-finger became a devastating pitch. If he can be consistent with his delivery, keep the shoulders square to the plate rather than falling off to the third-base side of the mound, I predict he will be among the American League leaders in strikeouts this season because hitters can’t touch that split when he’s right.”
Scout No. 3
On Bundy: “The Orioles have done a really good job of handling him the last two years, gradually increasing his workload without overtaxing him. I still think there’s a chance he could regain some of the lost velocity, but he is learning to win games without blowing people away. Next up on his to-do-list is to keep the ball down because pitching up in the zone is a recipe for disaster in Baltimore. If he can keep the home runs in check, he could be a top-of-the-rotation guy.”
On Gausman: “He needs to continue that consistent approach he showed in the second half of last season, carrying it into this season. He always gets off to slow starts and spends the rest of the season playing catch up. He’s 27 years old and that’s an age where the light bulb turns on for pitchers. That gives me a good feeling he’ll get out of the gates strong this year and have a big year.”
John Perrotto has been a professional sports writer since 1982 and has covered a multitude of sports, including MLB, NFL and college football and basketball. He has been a member of the Baseball Writers' Association since 1988, a Hall of Fame voter since 1997 and has covered 21 World Series and two Super Bowls. He is a graduate of Geneva College, the birthplace of college basketball, and lives in Beaver Falls, Pa., the hometown of Joe Willie Namath.
He also writes The Perrotto Report (theperrottoreport.com), newsletters that concentrate on Major League Baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates.