03/06/12 6:12 PM EST
Bundy making himself right at home in camp
Baltimore's top pitching prospect showing tremendous work ethic
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Twice a week after Bundy comes home from a workout at the Orioles' Ed Smith Stadium complex, he sets the punching bag up against his bed, cranks the music and gets in a circuit that made waves around the June First-Year Player Draft given its' popularity on YouTube.
"I did get one complaint," Bundy said when asked how his punching bag routine fared with his hotel neighbors, "[but] that was just from the stereo."
The Orioles, who took Bundy with the fourth overall pick in last year's Draft, have no objections. Already the organization's top pitching prospect, Bundy is turning heads this spring with a high-90s fastball and a maturity level far beyond his years. His work ethic, which dominated pre-Draft headlines given some of Bundy's unorthodox methods, is as advertised: incredible.
"I'm not surprised," Baltimore special assistant Brady Anderson said upon hearing of Bundy's extra boxing workouts.
Anderson, who oversees the Orioles' strength and conditioning program, went through one of Bundy's workouts this spring. The young pitcher walked into the weight room one afternoon and asked what the plan was. Anderson, who did the same thing with Jake Arrieta last year, told Bundy it was up to him.
"He's a unique talent, [has] a unique work ethic and you see how it shows up in his performance on the field," Anderson said. "When I heard about his work ethic and heard we drafted him, that's one of the first things I told him. I said, 'Hey, I know one of the reasons why you are the way you are. You are going to be allowed to be who you are and train how you do.'"
So far, so good. Bundy, who said he heard the organization wasn't a fan of long toss in the past, has been able to throw as long as he wants and from as far as he wants when playing catch. As for the punching workout, Bundy admits it's much harder when you can't hang the bag from the ceiling, a proposal he briefly considers and one that brings a rare smile to his face.
"I laugh all the time, you just don't ever see it," Bundy said of his typically stoic demeanor. "I don't know why. I've got a smile on every day."
With his time in Major League camp dwindling -- the Orioles plan to throw Bundy in a "B" game Sunday that is likely his last outing -- the young right-hander is focused on learning from the experience and leaving a lasting impression. He did just that in his spring debut Tuesday, tossing a scoreless fifth inning against the Red Sox, which included retiring Boston regulars Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez.
"For 19 years old, he carries himself very well," said catcher Taylor Teagarden, who went out to check on Bundy after he issued a four-pitch walk to Dustin Pedroia. "I've seen a lot of young guys come out in games like that and just walk the house pretty much. But coming out playing against the Red Sox, with a big crowd, he got back in the zone and he seems composed for the most part."
That Bundy was called in to pitch the fifth inning, instead of waiting until Boston put in its substitutes, was by manager Buck Showalter's design, another "part of the process" in Bundy's development.
"It was a good step for him," said Showalter, who watched from the dugout as Bundy tossed 15 straight fastballs, topping out at 97 mph. "[It's] another step to expose him to before he goes down."
Helping ease the transition to professional baseball is the fact that Bundy's older brother, Bobby, is already in the Orioles' organization, staying at a hotel approximately two miles down the road. The brothers have gone fishing this spring, and Bundy, who has hung out with some of the younger players in big league camp like Oliver Drake and Steve Johnson, said he doesn't constantly feel like he's the youngest guy.
"I try to feel like I'm their age, I try to react with them," said Bundy, who mentions O's pitchers Brian Matusz and Zach Britton as two big league players who have gone out of their way to help him this spring. "They say, 'You don't act like you're 19.' And I'm glad they can say that about me. I like to act older than I am."
When he was 15, Bundy was sent to play on a travel team in Texas and live with a host family, an experience that helped him learn the responsibility of being on his own, having to manage his money and do laundry. He did that for three summers, staying home this past year because he was drafted, and Bundy, who calls himself a "tightwad" when it comes to his bank account, said the experience has helped him adjust to having his own hotel room this spring.
He is still wide-eyed about certain things -- most notably, the fact that his hotel room has a separate living area and kitchen -- and admits the "wow" factor of being in big league camp officially hit him in Saturday's intrasquad game when Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds stepped into the batter's box.
"He's not intimidated, but he has complete respect for the fact that he is a 19-year-old in the game who hasn't yet arrived," Anderson said. "He's completely confident, but there's nothing arrogant about any of his actions.
"It's a big deal who he is and there's going to be a temptation with him to get him here quickly, and I think he's going to be there soon enough. That will be up to Buck and [executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette], but a talent like his doesn't come along often."
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.