a 2012 Baltimore Orioles Baseball: Orioles Update
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Orioles Call Up Top Prospect Bundy, McLouth Steps Up



Baltimore Orioles hats & merchandise The surging second-place  Baltimore Orioles  (84-64) (who just dropped out 0.5 games out of first behind the Yankees) continue their hunt for the American League Eastern title, the front office surprised critics and fans alike this morning.

Despite mid-season reports,  Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network reports  that the Birds have called up 19-year-old right-handed sensation  Dylan Bundy  from the double-A Bowie and he will be joining the Orioles bullpen.

The Birds drafted Bundy fourth overall in the 2011 MLB Draft, and this is his first season in the minor leagues. He began with single-A Delmarva and absolutely dominated the competition. In eight starts, he sported a 1-0 with a 0 ERA; he tossed 30.0 innings, and surrendered just five base hits (and two unearned runs), while picking up 40 strikeouts and walking only two opponents.

Although he finally gave up an earned run with his next team, single-A+ Frederick, he still continued to pitch very well and showed growth and maturity. He ended with a 6-3 record and a respectable 2.84 ERA after compiling 57.0 innings, allowing 48 base hits and surrendering 18 earned runs. In those 12 outings, he racked up 66 strikeouts and only issued 18 free passes, which is a 5.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

After his tenure at Frederick, the young phenom was again promoted this time to double-A Bowie, where he started just three games before receiving the life-altering phone call. With Bowie, he was undefeated with a 2-0 and a 3.24 ERA as he compiled 13 strikeouts over 16.2 innings pitched and allowed just six earned runs.

Check out Bundy's curveball in this clip . What an impressive pitch.

There is no doubt Bundy has an exceptional future ahead of him and he is one of the most highly-touted prospects in the game. Prior to this season, Baseball America ranked Bundy as the 10th top rated minor league prospect and by far, the Orioles most-watched and talked about up and coming arm.

Although the teenager is a starting pitcher and primarily accustomed to tossing five, six or seven innings, he will be used primarily out of the pen, just like lefty-veteran Randy Wolf. Right now, the Orioles have an overload in the starting rotation.

Three of the opening day starters are currently in the pen. Jake Arrieta , Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter , who picked up the win in last night's 18-inning affair, all struggled throughout the first half of the year. Each one of them made a trip, at least one, to the minors to work on their stuff, and all have been impressive since their respective returns.

It will be interesting to see how Showalter will use the young sensation. Also, if the Birds were not in the position they are (tied for first, battling for the East and/or Wild Card), would they have called him up at all? Or do they think (Dan Duquette) that he will have a major effect on the Orioles' playoff run?

No one knows the answer to either of those questions except for the front office and Showalter. Who knows if he will even be added to the playoff roster; he might just stay with the team for the remainder of the season.

It's a very exciting time for Baltimore fans; their team is finally playing well, and the AL East race is again relevant for the city. The Birds have so much fight in them, especially after surviving the18-inning contest last night, which is essentially two baseball games.


McLouth Continues to Swing a Hot Bat

Now, let’s switch gears and talk about how to Birds have been able to continue and play so well even with the absence of right-field anchor Nick Markakis .

After the left was pelted with a C.C. Sabathia pitch during the last series with the Bronx Bombers, left-fielder and newly-acquired former All-Star Nate McLouth has really stepped up his game and taken control of the leadoff spot.

Over his last ten games, his average has jumped 10 points from .273 to .283 for the year. Over that stretch, he is batting .326 (14-for-43), including back-to-back three hit performances in Seattle.

Not only has he racked up six hits over his last two games, he’s compiled three separate two-hit games over the last 10 games as well, including two home runs, three doubles and three RBI.

The key has been his ability to set the stage and pace for the game. He’s crossed the plate nine times in his last ten games, including four over his last two. When he gets on base, he makes things happen on the base paths; he has swiped eight-out-of-10 bases and is a table-setter.

When he came to the Birds, he was batting just .140 over his 57 at-bats with the playoff hopeful Pittsburgh Pirates. He last played with them at the end of May and was acquired by the Birds at the beginning of August, around the same time as when the Orioles began their surge.

With the Birds, the left-handed outfielder is batting .244 between both teams (51-for-209), including four home runs and 17 RBI. He has delivered all of his home runs and 15-of-the-17 RBI as a member of the Orioles.

He really has turned his season around, and has re-energized the playoff-chasing Orioles. Without McLouth at the top of the order, the Orioles might not be playing as well as they have been over the last month and a half.


Game Three at Seattle

The Birds conclude the three-game series against the Mariners this evening at Safeco Field. And, they could be in for another tough battle as the M’s will send their ace Felix Hernandez to the hill.

The right-handed hurler features a 13-8 record with an impressive 2.92 ERA. However, over his last three outings, he has tossed 16 innings and allowed 16 earned runs.

In his career against the Orioles, he sports a 5-4 record with a respectable 3.65 ERA over 88.2 innings of work. However, over his last three outings, he is 0-1 with a 4.67 ERA. In his latest outing versus the Black and Orange on July 3 rd, he did not factor in the decision, but he tossed 5.1 innings and allowed four runs.

The Orioles will counter with LHP newly acquired Joe Saunders , who is 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA in four starts since coming over from the Diamondbacks towards the end of August. On the year, he is 8-12 with a 4.24 ERA over 153.0 innings of work.

The southpaw has been very tough against the Mariners in his career as he has gone 8-1 with a 3.75 ERA over 84 innings. Hopefully he can continue his dominance tonight as the Orioles need to win in order to keep pace with the Yankees.

Since the Yankees won the first game of their double-header this afternoon, they are now a half game in front of the Birds. However, if they lose tonight to the Jays, and the Orioles win, then the Birds will regain a half game lead and ensure themselves of first-place at least until the Yankees head to Oakland this weekend.

The Birds head to Boston to complete their nine-game road trip, and shouldn’t have that much trouble in the three-game set. If the Birds lose and the Yankees win, the Bombers would gain a 1.5 game lead over the Birds. If both teams lose tonight, the Yanks will remain a half game in front and they have a game tomorrow against the Jays while the Orioles are idle.

Tonight is a very important game for the Birds, and basically a must-win game if they want to stay in the AL East hunt.



By: Alex Van Rees
MLBCenter.com Staff Writer
Follow me on twitter: @Alex_VanRees

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