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Bundy fans three, winning debut at Double-A

BOW View Full Game Coverage IE, Md. -- Dylan Bundy took a seat in Double-A Bowie's dugout for the first time on Tuesday. A week ago, that was Manny Machado's dugout.

Now, Machado is the reigning American League Player of the Week. Where will Bundy, who debuted with Bowie on Tuesday, be next week?

In all likelihood, still in Double-A. But September callups are right around the corner, and Bundy's dominance this season is sure to put him on the short list of possibilities. Just don't try to tell him that.

"I wouldn't say I'm close," Bundy said. "I'm only two levels away, but then again, it's my first start here, so I'm not going to say I'm very close at all. I've just got to keep progressing here at Bowie."

"Let him get his feet wet here, and see where it takes him," pitching coach Kennie Steenstra said.

The No. 4 overall pick and top high school player selected in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Bundy earned the win in his Double-A debut, running his season line to 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA between his three Minor League stops.

Bundy held Erie to three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings as Bowie claimed the 5-3 win.

"I made quality pitches pretty much when I needed to," Bundy said. "Offspeed stuff was on and off all night. It wasn't great, but it was there. So I'm happy about that."

Bundy threw 56 of his 96 pitches for strikes, but his command seemed to wane down the stretch. After the fourth inning, only 14 of his 32 pitches were strikes.

The righty said fatigue wasn't a factor -- he says he could throw 120 or 130 pitches right now if the organization would let him.

"He got out of synch a little bit," Steenstra said. "His timing got off a little bit on his landing. He was just dragging a little bit. But he corrected it himself. I didn't have to remind him of anything. He got it back together."

Bundy surrendered back-to-back one-out walks in the fifth before escaping the jam, and he allowed consecutive hits in the sixth -- although the first runner was caught stealing -- before exiting to a standing ovation from the crowd of 2,982.

Bundy displayed a powerful fastball that reached as high as 97 mph and a looping curveball that Erie hitters swung at and missed for all three of his strikeouts.

He also mixed in a mid-to-high 80s changeup that drew multiple swings and misses from hitters who were looking for the heater.

"I was real impressed," Steenstra said of the changeup. "He did a nice job of keeping it down and finishing that pitch. Got some swings and misses with it. For me, that was his second best pitch tonight, his curveball was his third. For a kid that young, it's a pretty good changeup already."

At the lower levels, Bundy's changeup was a liability. With Class A hitters unable to catch up to his fastball, all the changeup did was level the playing field. Now, against Double-A batters capable of timing up almost any fastball, the changeup is a useful tool.

"The changeup is coming along," Bundy said. "It was better in the past than it was tonight. I was trying to baby it over for a strike too much when I should've just thrown it like a fastball."

In addition to that tweak, Bundy said he wants to work on his pitching out of the stretch -- something he hardly had to do against Class A hitters, who struggled to get on base against him. He's also learning to make adjustments inning to inning, maybe mixing in first-pitch curveballs and changeups against hitters good enough to adjust to his fastball after a look at it. But above all else, his primary focus is on the same things it's been all season: fastball command and his offspeed pitches.

"Everybody tells me [velocity] is what got me drafted, and pitching location is what gets you to the big leagues," Bundy said. "So I've just got to work on my location here."

If Bundy continues to pitch on his usual five days' rest, he would make three more starts with Bowie before the regular season ends on Sept. 3. The last of those would come in Harrisburg on Sept. 1, coincidentally the same day Major League rosters expand from 25 to 40.

Given the callup of Machado, and O's manager Buck Showalter's decision to send Jim Thome to Bowie to scout Bundy on Tuesday, a move to bring the O's top pitching prospect to the Majors doesn't seem as outlandish as it did when the 19-year-old began his pro career in April.

But all of that is out of Bundy's hands, so he's not wasting time thinking about it. Besides, he's got other things to worry about.

"That's not any of my concern," Bundy said. "It's all about pitching here and getting developed more in all of my pitches, and like I said, command. I'm not worried about September at all. I'm worried about August."

Baltimore Orioles, Dylan Bundy