Bundy struck out six batters, including two in his first foray into the fourth inning of the season, and needed just 44 pitches to retire all 12 Greenville batters he faced.
But it was the development of Bundy’s changeup that had he and Mattes talking after the game.
“I feel like I can throw that pitch any time I want to right now, just like the fastball,” Bundy said. “The kind of movement I want on it isn’t quite there. Sometimes it’ll get more run than sink, but that’s what I’m working out right now.”
Two of Bundy’s six strikeouts came on 87 mph changeups, both swinging variety strikes set up by his fastball.
“That’s what the organization wants me to throw,” he said. “They really want me to be able to develop, to be able to throw that at the next level, and that’s what I’m doing.”
But before he could get to his off-speed pitches, Bundy struck out the game’s opening batter, outfielder Cody Koback, on a steady diet of fastballs. He reached back to 98 mph on the game’s fifth pitch to record his first strikeout.
Bundy opened the next two batters with changeups, ultimately getting Greenville catcher Blake Swihart to ground out to second before striking out designated hitter Garin Cecchini looking on a tight backdoor curveball.
Bundy followed the impressive first up with a 10-pitch second inning, again retiring the Drive in order. He sandwiched his third strikeout of the game, this on an 87 mph changeup, between a popup to third baseman Jason Esposito and a line drive right at left fielder John Reuttiger.
The 19-year-old right-hander opened up the third frame with a four-pitch strikeout when Greenville outfielder Matt Marquis flailed at a high curveball for strike three. He then retired the next two batters combined on just four pitches, and through three, Bundy had thrown just 34 pitches.
But for the first time in the young season, Bundy returned for a fourth inning that went just as smoothly as the first three. He needed just 10 pitches—nine of which were strikes—to set down the Drive in order and extend his streak to 13 hitless innings to begin his professional career.
“Going three innings, you’re just getting into the groove of the game,” Bundy said. “That fourth inning really determines how you’re going to do for the rest of the game, and being out there four innings finally is a lot better feeling.”
Despite his sterling statistics thus far—Bundy has struck out 21 of 40 batters faced this season, with a walk in his last start against Hagerstown representing the only baserunner allowed in four starts—the young pitcher balked at the idea that the South Atlantic League wasn’t providing stiff competition for him.
“I think I’m being challenged by working on my secondary pitches and developing myself as a better pitcher,” Bundy said. “It might not look like they’re challenging me, but they really are. They’re live batters, and I’m working on my secondary pitches and fastball command.”
Mattes said Bundy’s stuff could play farther up the ladder, but that this was an important time in his development.
“He knows that most lower levels right now, he could probably go out there and dominate with the fastball, but it’s a good opportunity here to work on all of his pitches,” Mattes said. “His curve ball hasn’t been extremely sharp. Right now he’s getting a feel for his changeup. He’s learning not just to throw it, but how to throw it, why to throw it, when to throw it, and it’s a necessary thing for him.”
And though he acknowledges that there’s a plan in place within the organization for him, Bundy refused to speculate on when that plan might include a promotion to Frederick.
“I really don’t want to get into that,” he said. “It’s whatever they decide, and I’m happy with it. I’m happy here, getting all my innings in, getting used to pro ball and working on my secondary pitches.”