Dylan Bundy, who has yet to throw a pitch in a game this season, had a setback yesterday as he threw from 120 feet.
According to everywhere on the Internet, Bundy felt discomfort near his “right flexor mass,” where the forearm meets the elbow. Bundy was shut down for similar reasons six weeks ago, given a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in April in the hopes he’d recover without surgery.
I am not a doctor and do not know what the future has in store for Bundy, but I’m also not new to monitoring pitching prospects, and this is not good news.
I bring this up simply because I want to call attention to something I wrote earlier in the season: something that, in hindsight, was foolish to publish. Here is my quick description of what Bundy brings to the table from my preseason Top 150 list.
The “safest” high school pitcher to come along in years has all the ingredients to be a Top 10 Fantasy starter for a very long time, though he may pitch in relief in 2013.
You see the word “safest?” I should not have used it. In fact, prospect writers and analysts should be fined every time they use the word “safe” and “pitching prospect” in the same paragraph. Except for this instance.Sure, there was a compelling case to make for why Bundy was supposed to be more of a sure thing than other pitching prospects. He’s very athletic. His delivery is very repeatable and clean. His arm hadn’t been abused in high school. He looked young and fresh and clean, and despite his size, I wouldn’t really characterize his delivery as “max effort.”
But pitching prospects, especially from a Fantasy point of view, are just too damn hard to project. Bundy’s case doesn’t just make me curious as to warning signs I missed with him, it makes me think about every “can’t-miss” prospect we have today.
Taijuan Walker is super athletic: that doesn’t mean he can’t break down. Archie Bradley has a perfect pitcher’s frame: his elbow is still built the same way as ours. Jameson Taillon has been handled cautiously as he’s made his ascent: he’s secretly Canadian. A case like Bundy’s truly makes it hard to feel safe anymore.
I don’t have overwhelming evidence to support this conclusion, so take it with a grain of salt, but it seems to me that shutting pitchers with elbow trouble down in the hopes they don’t need Tommy John surgery doesn’t often seem to work.
As I wrote a few months ago, we’ve seen this approach attempted with the likes of Casey Kelly and Manny Banuelos before, but to no avail. Again, I have no inside information or insight, but if I were a betting man, I wouldn’t expect to see Bundy again until late 2014 or 2015, as he’s recovering from Tommy John.
That doesn’t necessarily kill his long-term value, but it makes him a borderline Top 50 name in my book. Considering most ranked him between No. 2 and No. 4 before the season, it’s quite a precipitous fall.
You can be sure that when I make my Top 150 list for next season, even the best pitchers will be ranked a little lower.