KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Player Prospecting series highlights the exploits of minor league baseball players, including top MLB prospects. Find out who'll make an impact in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game next week or in your fantasy baseball keeper league a year from now.
The entire front office, coaching staff and die-hard fans of the Baltimore Orioles are holding their breath as the team's top pitching prospect, Dylan Bundy (elbow, forearm), heads for a second checkup on his ailing right elbow this week. If that's not troubling enough news, the right-hander is going to see the physician that all pitchers fear more than even their dentist: Dr. James Andrews. Second opinions with Andrews more often than not end with the recommendation for Tommy John surgery, which would end Bundy's hopes of pitching for the Orioles this year and most of 2014.
The good news is that Bundy's MRI exam came back clean on his elbow, and the team has described his condition as "flexor mass tightness," which is centered closer to his forearm. However, until we hear Andrews' assessment, we don't know what's in store for Bundy. Tommy John surgery definitely remains a possibility, though.
Many believed Bundy, who went 9-3 with a 2.08 ERA and 119 strikeouts in 23 starts (103 2/3 innings) over three different minor league levels last season, had a realistic shot to crack the team's starting rotation out of spring camp. That didn't pan out, however, as he struggled with location and eventually dealt with forearm pain, which may have been a reason for his command issues. Since then, he's been trying to build up arm strength in order to debut with Triple-A Norfolk, but obviously that hasn't happened.
Bundy is only 20 years old, but he reached Baltimore last season at 19. He's very advanced and strong for his age, and he has the skills to pitch in the major leagues now, which is why this would be such a huge blow to the O's. He has a plus heater that generates plenty of empty hacks, but his secondary stuff (curveball and changeup) are also excellent out pitches. He, along with fellow prospect Kevin Gausman, is a candidate to come up later this year, depending on the outcome of his visit with Andrews.
If Bundy receives bad news and has to go under the knife, move Gausman (1-2, 4.71 ERA and 21 K's in 21 IP with Double-A Bowie) up your prospect watch list for later this summer.
The San Diego Padres are reportedly promoting Robbie Erlin to the big league squad today. They acquired Erlin and Joe Wieland in the summer of 2011 in the deal that sent Mike Adams to the Texas Rangers. Erlin posted a 2.99 ERA and 154 strikeouts in 147 1/3 frames (25 starts) between various minor league levels with the Rangers and Friars in 2011, but elbow tendonitis caused him to miss three months last year.
The short southpaw (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) doesn't have electric stuff on the mound, but he has superior pitchability and excellent control of his pitches to all parts of the plate. He attacks the zone frequently, and PETCO Park should aid in his effectiveness for those willing to take a shot on him in deep mixed leagues.
The only problem is that it's unknown how the Padres will utilize this 22-year-old initially. There currently isn't a rotation spot open, unless Erlin were to bump Andrew Cashner out of a starting job, which seems rather unlikely. For now, Erlin may just serve as pitching depth for SD. Stay tuned.
Phigtin' Phillie, Dodgers' depth....
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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