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Dylan Bundy, 20, Orioles pitcher
You say Dylan Bundy's name and ears perk up.
Orioles fans know him -- and expect a lot out of the team's first-round 2011 draft pick (fourth overall). Sports writers admire him and tout his promise. (The Baltimore Sun has called him "the blessed right arm of the future.")
And he's generally regarded as already not only one of the team's top five starters but the game's No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America.
For his part, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound, built-like-a-football player Oklahoman doesn't let the pressure, all the high hopes, all the acclaim affect his work ethic.
"Oh, man. I don't really let any of it get to me," said Bundy from spring training in Sarasota, Fla., responding to e-mailed questions. "I just go out there and take care of business on the mound. It's just people's opinions."
Since the team drafted Bundy, fans have followed the 2011 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year's moves, his ups and downs, from his April 2011 debut with Single-A Delmarva -- which introduced his nearing-100 mph fastballs -- to his promotion to Class-A Frederick Keys, the Bowie Baysox and his call up to relief pitch for the Orioles last September. His parents were in the crowd.
"It had been my dream as a little kid to do that," said Bundy, whose brother, Bobby, 22, pitches for Double-A Bowie. "I want to get back up there soon as I can and stay up there for a long time."
While Bundy's performances have been impressive, if a bit rocky, in Florida (he has also had to battle a slight groin issue), he has been learning the ropes, tweaking his game and his pitching delivery and conferring with Orioles manager Buck Showalter.
And he's been getting advice from the veteran pitchers in the clubhouse. "They're all pretty nice guys, and they all take care of me and show me what to do and what not to do."
While he's focusing on his command and velocity, Bundy -- like everyone else following the team -- is pondering his future. Showalter has said that Bundy, along with 2012 first-round draft pick pitcher Kevin Gausman, will likely start the season in the minor leagues, with perhaps a September or October debut with the O's.
"[I want] a long, successful career, and of course to win a World Series," Bundy said. "Every pitcher's dream is to be that Game 7 pitcher and win that game."
Fall can't come soon enough.