Salisbury, MD - Shorebirds radio announcer Bret Lasky recently caught up with MASNsports.com blogger Steve Melewski to talk about the minor leagues and the Shorebirds. In part two of the interview, Steve talks Dylan Bundy, Jonathan Schoop and the Orioles system as a whole.
If you missed part one of the interview, click here.
To read more of Melewski's work on MASNsports.com, click here.
Bret: What is the update on Dylan Bundy and what are the prospects for him in 2014?
Steve: Well, coming off of surgery in June, I think you always look about 12 months out for those guys, give or take. It can be faster for some, it can be slower for others. My guess is that the Orioles look at 2014 for Dylan Bundy as just let's get him back healthy, build him back up and let's get him back on the mound. I don't guess they think he is going to be pitching at a high level right out of the box coming off that major surgery.
To me, 2014 is kind of a transition year for Bundy. I don't think you can expect him to be in Baltimore - I think that is being ambitious. Maybe he just re-enters the minor leagues wherever, gets some regular innings, builds back up arm strength and gets back to where he was before the surgery.
Some of these young kids come out of the surgery better - throwing harder. I don't know if Dylan Bundy can throw any harder than he was throwing. Just to have him back and healthy and well and progressing in 2014 would be a success for him, whatever level he is at.
When you flip the calendar to 2015, now he maybe becomes a factor again to be someone for the Orioles. Now, he's a pretty remarkable kid and he could change that timetable and do better than expected. I'm not going to rule out that he comes back real strong, he moves fast and late next year he's pitching in the big leagues. It seems that is unlikely, but again he is good young kid so you can't rule that out.
Bret: We've seen cases where a player puts up average numbers for the Shorebirds and then gets promoted and puts up better numbers at the higher levels (i.e Tim Berry, Michael Ohlman, Jake Pettit). What is your take?
Steve: I notice it. A couple years ago when Frederick made the playoffs, Jacob Pettit pitched much better in Frederick than he did in Delmarva. In that specific case, a lot of people thought that he and Brian Ward (catcher) really clicked and that helped him a lot.
I think we see this in the minors. I was just looking up some Chris Tillman statistics. In Chris Tillman's first year in High-A, he had a 5-ERA (5.26 ERA in High Desert). I think fans think that if you're a good pitching prospect that you should never have a 5.20 ERA in the minor leagues. But, we see a kid at 21 or 22 and 25 could be radically different. He may be more mature, maybe he wasn't working as hard at 21 and he figured out by 24 that hey, I have to work harder at this, these guys can hit me. Maybe his fastball gained two miles an hour. These are kids were talking about and we can't say that because player x did this in Delmarva in 2011 that player x will do this in Frederick in 2012.
Look at what Michael Ohlman did this year. A lot of people credit his winter work in winter ball (Australia). He came in ready to go and got a little bigger and stronger.
We see that happen in the minors a lot and I think we all, myself included, make the mistake of going well this guy had a 4.40 ERA in Delmarva so he won't do well in Frederick. Well, he might. To me, the minor leagues is fascinating because we can't predict. First round picks flame out, 20th round picks make the bigs, 50th round picks like Tim Berry do better than you would think a kid picked in the 50th round would do.
I'll use the example of Parker Bridwell and I talked to a lot of people about Parker late in the year (2013). You saw that kid have some rocky outings and you saw him have some incredible outings. If you look at that, when he has an incredible outing, what that tells me is look at what that kid is capable of doing. That wasn't a fluke - he didn't strikeout 14 batters because he was lucky. He did it because he was good. Now, what he has to do is find a way to be good more often. He has one of the better arms in the organization and the Orioles know that. A fan, looking at the Shorebirds stats sheet from this year, might go ah, I'm not impressed. But, 144 strikeouts, 142.2 innings pitched. A kid that has outings like that, it's the Orioles job to try and make that happen more often. He's a talented kid for a reason. Just because his ERA says something, I think his potential says something else. But, as you know, how many kids never reach their potential?
Bret: The 2011 season was a breakout season for Jonathan Schoop with the Shorebirds. He reached the major leagues this year. What are your thoughts on Jonathan and what he can do in 2014?
Steve: The back injury set him back and it caused a disjointed year for Jonathan Schoop who was really starting to rake at Triple-A when the back sidelined him for a couple months. So, I think the Arizona Fall League is going to be big for him just to get more playing time and at-bats to get in the groove.
He is still very highly regarded by the Orioles. His defense is really good no matter where they put him. I think he can really turn the double play at second base. I think he is a guy who could push to be the second baseman (for the Orioles) next year. Now, I don't know if that means opening day or June or what, but he probably needs more time on the farm because of his year this year with the injury. He didn't play a full year at Triple-A.
There is a quick bat there, there is a bat that has some life in it. The thing that Jonathan did that impressed the Orioles in September is just the way he approached the call up. He knew he wouldn't play much, but he was very engaged in the game as Buck (Showalter) would say. In the dugout, he was watching every pitch and learning. He told me when I interviewed him when he got to Baltimore that he was going to soak it up and learn something every day. He is a sponge and that will serve him well because that impressed Buck Showalter as much as his physical gifts.
He is just a good kid who I think is going places and it is just a matter of when that is going to happen.
Bret: In general, where do you see areas in which the overall minor league system can improve?
Steve: I think it starts with the talent base. It looks like Gary Rajsich (Orioles Scouting Director) had a couple of pretty good drafts. The players that were drafted in 2013 played well. I think you just have to keep pumping talent into the pipeline. This is a multi-year process - you can't go from one year to the next and all of a sudden have it happen.
In the minors, it takes time and it is sicklicle. The Orioles' (minors) were in top ten a couple of years ago because of certain prospects and they will be again when they get those prospects, but you don't get Manny Machado's very often.
But, I look at the last couple of drafts and Gausman and Harvey have an amazing amount of potential and they just have to keep grinding away.
I like the managers the Orioles have now. The pitching coaches are solid. Some people say I'm to close to it and I am because I know those guys well and I root for all of them, players and coaches, because they are really good people.
I'm willing to admit that the Orioles don't have a great farm system compared to some other teams and they have work to do and I think they (the Orioles) know that too. You keep trying to do better in the draft and the Orioles are adding some international talent - they just signed a 16-year old Dominican kid, Olelky Peralta. I've heard great reports about him from instructional league. Under Duquette, they are doing more internationally.
Bret: We want to thank Steve Melewski for taking time to do this interview with us for the website. Thanks again Steve and will check back in with you in 2014!