FORT MYERS, Fla. – Orioles manager Buck Showalter joked earlier this week that he wasn’t sure which one of his top pitching prospects he wanted to start Saturday night against the Boston Red Sox – for fear the other one would hurt himself trying to outdo his buddy.
Ultimately, the decision was made to put 2011 first-round pick Dylan Bundy ahead of 2012 first-round pick Kevin Gausman.
Bundy got the start, but Gausman had the smoother and more eye-popping outing as the duo combined to allow just one unearned run through five innings in the Orioles' 5-2 win at JetBlue Park.
“It was cool,” Gausman said. “We are around each other every day and I think we are paired in just about every sentence to Orioles fans, so obviously it was cool.”
Making his fourth appearance this spring, Gausman pitched so effectively that he was sent out for a third inning. He allowed two singles, no walks, no runs and struck out three batters, including Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes twice.
The 22-year-old, who was taken with the fourth pick of the 2012 draft out of LSU, threw an impressive 25 of his 33 pitches for strikes. His fastball sat between 94 and 96 mph and he hit 98 mph once.
“I felt good and that was probably the biggest thing, I felt comfortable out there,” Gausman said. “It was fun. It’s always fun to be out there and to pitch in a place you’ve never been. It was a great atmosphere.”
In his four spring outings, Gausman has allowed two runs on eight hits and three walks in 7 2/3 innings while striking out nine batters.
This one was the first time he and Bundy had pitched in the same game.
Just 20 and considered baseball’s top minor league pitcher, Bundy had trouble with his control against a Red Sox lineup that was without five regular starters including David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia.
In his two innings, he threw 35 pitches and only 18 for strikes, walking two and allowing a hit while striking out one batter. The lone hit was a two-out double to right by Mitch Maier that Conor Jackson mishandled in the corner, allowing Will Middlebrooks, who had reached on a walk, to score from first.
“Two walks. I’m never happy with that,” Bundy said. “But left a fastball up in the zone, and [Maier] hits it down the line. Two walks is what I’m concerned with.”
Through much of Bundy’s tremendous season last year – that began at Single-A Delmarva and ended with the Orioles – he was featuring a mid-90s fastball that occasionally hit 98. On Saturday, he threw his fastball between 91 and 93 mph, with one registering at 94.
He was asked after the game if he paid attention to velocity figures.
“A little bit, because last year I was throwing harder,” Bundy said. “But I’m still working on some things, kind of figuring out what I was doing, high school ball and stuff like that, trying to get back to it.”
This was the first big league exhibition start of Bundy’s career. His major league debut and first spring appearance – last spring– also came against the Red Sox.
He hadn’t pitched this year since Feb. 27 because he was dealing with a groin issue and the club wanted to be cautious with their top prospect.
He said he felt fine Saturday; he was just frustrated with throwing just over half of his pitches for strikes.
“Very disappointing, that’s horrible,” he said. “I was a little out of whack today. I have to get back to the stuff I was doing.”Copyright © 2015, CT Now