There has been a lot of hype surrounding top prep pitcher Dylan Bundy as a candidate to go first overall in the 2011 draft. Despite this hype, there is one person who doesn’t want to see that happen: Bundy.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Bundy has instructed the Pirates, and several other teams, not to draft him. The reason? Fears that those teams will try to change his throwing program. Bundy, along with UCLA right hander Trevor Bauer, doesn’t want to go to a team that prohibits long toss, which is an act where pitchers can throw from a distance of up to 300 feet, helping to build arm strength.
It’s been reported in the past that the Pirates are strict believers in the 120 throwing program, which limits pitchers to throwing from 120 feet, and no further. However, the Pirates don’t prohibit long toss. In my interview with minor league pitching coordinator Jim Benedict, I asked him about their stance on long toss:
Another philosophy or routine that has gotten a lot of attention lately with Tim Alderson is the 120 throwing program, and how you guys don’t do long toss. Do you let particular players do long toss, and escape from the 120 if they request it, and how would you deicide which players is right for which system?
We are big believers in long toss. All the way back to when I was in Montreal in the middle 90s. We threw long toss every day. I couldn’t be a bigger proponent of long toss. In a camp environment, if you have guys doing all different things, all the time, it gets a little crazy. So what we do, we go to 120, and then we isolate the longer distances. We have guys going 150, 180, 220. I have a guy going 280 right now. It’s individual. That would be a drill for us. There’s a reason for long toss to that extension point. There’s a destruction on certain mechanics with certain people, if they push or elevate, or throw it too high, things like that, that works against you. We try to keep the extension full, no matter the distance. We are huge proponents, and you see the velocities in our camp. We have numerous guys going from 92 to 97, 98, and it’s because of long toss, because of our weight work, because we throw four seamers, our velocities are up, and that’s the reason.
Benedict mentions that they have guys who go beyond the 120 mark, even up to 280 in one case. They stick with a 120 throwing program as a group drill in camp, although that doesn’t limit players from throwing from longer distances. The Pirates sent people to visit Bundy, according to Passan, and that’s when they were told not to draft him:
Pittsburgh sent a cadre of evaluators to Oklahoma to talk with the 18-year-old and left with Bundy’s representatives advising the Pirates not to select him. One executive asked the Bundy camp whether its demand for a six-year, $30 million major league contract – nearly twice what Stephen Strasburg received two years ago – was to scare teams off. The answer was yes.
It seems like Bundy has two negotiating tactics in play here. First of all, he’s throwing out a huge number, which combined with a major league deal (rare for prep pitchers) indicates that he would be a tough sign. The fact that he’s telling specific teams not to draft him could also be a negotiating ploy. For one, it could be a method to try to get him to drop to bigger market teams, who might be more willing to give him a huge contract. It could also be used as leverage against the Pirates if they did draft him, in an attempt to get a bigger signing bonus.
In a poll ran on the site the other day, 70% of you said that you would take Anthony Rendon first overall in the draft. However, Bundy came in second place with over 9% of the votes, separating him from the pack as the clear #2. There is definitely some appeal with Bundy, a guy who can throw 100 MPH. Some have said he could pitch in the majors today, while Passan’s article mentions that he could arrive as soon as 2013 (which is also the early ETA for Jameson Taillon, which would make for a deadly 1-2 punch). There’s even been talk that he’s better than Taillon, which would make him the number one prospect in the organization. However, Bundy looks like he will be a tough sign, and surprisingly, might even be more difficult to sign than Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole, who are both Scott Boras clients.