HAGERSTOWN — Dylan Bundy knows you have to walk before you can even start to think about running.
Maybe that’s why the 19-year-old pitcher is able to take everything in stride.
Bundy, the Baltimore Orioles’ top pitching prospect, continued his march through Single-A competition as he controlled the Hagerstown Suns for five innings — allowing just one hit in a 3-1 win on Sunday for his first professional victory.
It was just another step in the right direction.
“I’m just taking it day by day,” Bundy said. “I’m enjoying it and taking the next step.”
Bundy has made it all seem pretty easy since becoming the Orioles’ first pick and the fourth choice overall in the 2011 amateur draft. He possesses a crackling fastball that clocks at 97 mph and has overmatched his opponents through his first eight starts despite facing a tight limit on his work.
On Sunday, his five-inning stint matched his longest, which he first reached in his previous start.
“I felt like I could go out there and work on stuff,” said Bundy of the longer outing. “When you are out there for three or four innings, you don’t get to do that. I felt all right, but I didn’t have my best control. I had some quality pitches and got the outs.”
Bundy threw 58 pitches, 32 for strikes. A number of his balls were well off the plate, but he gunned the fastball to get outs and stay out of jams. He said he stayed primarily with his fastball and only threw three changeups, a pitch he is working to perfect.
“I kept throwing it,” he said. “They were having trouble catching up to it.”
Bundy was the main attraction for the 1,991 fans who came to Municipal Stadium.
Part of it was because he is so highly regarded. Most of the draw, though, was to see the young guy with the eye-popping numbers.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Tulsa, Okla., is carrying a 0.00 ERA through 30 innings of work. He has allowed just two UNEARNED runs, five hits and two walks while striking out 40. Opponents are hitting just .053 against him.
The Suns have one hit — coming Sunday on Matt Skole’s leadoff double in the fifth inning — and one walk in two tries totalling eight innings against Bundy. On Sunday, Hagerstown made a lot of contact against Bundy, but hit the balls at Delmarva’s defense.
It’s all still a walk in the ballpark for Bundy.
“Every day is the same for him,” said Delmarva pitching coach Troy Mattes. “He takes it one day at a time. When we talk, he never says anything about pitching in the big leagues and never mentions anything about being promoted to Frederick.
“He is the consummate professional. He is driven and is working his tail off to get to the big leagues. It hasn’t changed him a bit. He’s the same. You see all the changes in him on the field.”
Mattes said the Orioles are deliberately taking a slow track with Bundy’s development.
“He wants to throw more innings, but he understands the progression we have for him,” Mattes said. “We are limiting his innings to give him a chance to pitch a full season, instead of reaching a limit early and having him sitting and watching everyone else play for the last two or three weeks.”
Even though Bundy retired the first 12 Suns he faced on Sunday before allowing the only hit, it wasn’t his best outing to date.
“I thought he did OK,” Mattes said. “He cruised through the first four innings, but they hit some hard balls against him. He didn’t have his best stuff or command, but he went out there and competed.”
The Suns’ first — and best — of two chances to blemish Bundy’s spotless ERA came with two outs in the second when J.P. Ramirez connected on a 2-1 changeup and sent it to the right-field fence. Brenden Webb leaped and robbed Ramirez of a home run, catching the ball over the barrier.
“That wasn’t a good pitch at the time,” Bundy said. “I said to myself, ‘He was late on a 2-0 fastball and you throw him a 2-1 change.’ That’s all part of the thinking. They can come up and time the fastball after seeing it two or three times up. I have to be better at timing their bats.”
It was just another step in the learning process. Bundy tried to thank Webb from saving him from getting a lesson the hard way.
“I offered to buy him dinner,” Bundy said. “He said he didn’t want anything.”
That’s what most every batter is getting from Bundy so far.