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Orioles' Bundy rounding out elite foursome of pitching prospects

Phil Humber was outstanding, no, legendary, last week, retiring 27 consecutive batters. He ain't no Dylan Bundy, though. (Tongue, somewhat, planted in cheek.)

That bad dude has retired 40 batters without allowing a hit in his first 13 innings this season. Since it is merely Class A ball, it pales in comparison to Humber's exploits, but because Bundy throws so hard and is such an impressive pitching prospect we have to trumpet it here.

We tagged the Diamondbacks' Trevor Bauer the best pitching prospect in fantasy in this space a few weeks ago, taking over for the Braves' Julio Teheran, but Bundy certainly is making his case.

Bundy, 19, has struck out 21 batters, allowing just one walk and no hits thus far this season. Since he was picked out of high school last June, the Orioles are going to build him up slowly, but this has the makings of shackling a bull before a fight. It is going to become difficult to hold him back should he remain so dominant.

"I feel like I'm just going out there and getting work in," Bundy told MiLB.com. "Working my secondary pitches and just going out and being a pitcher every game."

If throwing 99 mph consistently is just "getting work in," we are in store for something awesome.

"Even through my playing days, this is one of the most polished guys I've seen," Bundy's Class A manager Ryan Minor told MASN. "It seemed effortless for him and you don't realize he is throwing as hard as he does, whether it's 97, 98, touching 99 mph or whatever. It doesn't look like that because he is not a max effort guy. He's got a good, consistent delivery with good balance."

Bundy was held to three three-inning starts and will get a couple more four-inning outings before being bumped to five innings. It has become apparent the Orioles are going to tightly dictate the amount of throwing this elite arm does. He has been limited mostly to fastballs, but he is working on his change-up and tossing in his curveball less than a handful of times an outing.

It is not often we see a high school pitcher soar to the major league just over one year after being drafted, but Bundy is a special talent capable of doing incredible things.

Because Bundy was just a high school arm out of Oklahoma, he slipped to fourth overall in the 2011 June First Year Player Draft. The Pirates chose Gerrit Cole first overall, followed by the M's Danny Hultzen second and the D'backs' Bauer third. This is shaping up to being quite a quartet.

In fact, Cole might be the least impressive thus far in the early returns.

Bauer, a college teammate of Cole at UCLA, broke Mark Prior's Pac-10 strikeout record a year ago and hasn't slowed down in Double-A this April. He is a perfect 4-0 in four starts with a 0.40 ERA and .158 batting-average against. He has struck out 28 batters in 22 2/3 innings. Because he is 21 and the most stretched out arm of the bunch, he will be the first one we see in the majors -- perhaps by June.

Hultzen, 22, like Bauer, was a candidate to win a rotation spot out of spring training, only to get sent back to Double-A. He hasn't disappointed either, striking out 26 in 22 2/3 innings with an even better .122 BAA.

Cole, 21, who, like Bundy, is back in Class A ball and hasn't been bad, but these are some tough acts to follow -- err lead. It was Cole, not Bauer, who led last June's draft class. Through 12 innings, Cole has struck out 18 and allowed a .277 BAA.

This Fab Four will be fun to track, but even more fun to own when they finally make their way to the major leagues. It should be Bauer, Hultzen, Bundy then Cole getting the call in that order. Bauer figures to get it started before June, while Bundy and Cole might have to wait until September, or 2013.

For the organization that gave us a Salmon (Tim), we are waiting anxiously for Trout season.

If the pitching exploits of those above are just hot air and plenty of smoke, the hype tied to Mike Trout is a flaming inferno. It certainly helps stoke the fire that the Angels have struggling, overpaid vet Vernon Wells holding Trout back with a .234 on-base percentage (that's OBP, not his average!).

The signing of Albert Pujols upped the ante in Anaheim and the clamoring for Trout is about to get deafening.

"I want [his call-up] to be when Mike is ready to take an everyday position on our club," Angels GM Dipoto told the Los Angeles Times. "Whether that's sooner rather than later, I can't tell you. ... He's off to a great start. I think that's what we all expected."

Trout, 20, went 3-for-4 Tuesday to raise his Triple-A average to .419. His average is almost double Wells' OBP.

"We know what Mike can deliver," Dipoto told the paper. "When we get to the point where we feel like there's an everyday position for him to impact the club, that's when he'll be here."

Wells, Peter Bourjos, Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu and perhaps even Mark Trumbo are handling the starts in the outfield for the Angels right now. Once the Angels have had enough of Wells, they will go to Trout full-time. It will make him a must-have in all fantasy leagues.

We have to figure the fans in Anaheim will pull a Tim Tebow and force the organization's hand before June.

The A's didn't make Jarrod Parker their first choice to be the No. 5 starter out of spring training, but they are hoping he is their best choice. The pitching prospect acquired in the offseason deal for Trevor Cahill makes his debut Wednesday against the White Sox.

"For [Parker], it's always whether or not he's throwing the ball over the plate," manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com. "If he throws the ball over the plate, his stuff's tough to hit. He has high velocity and plus breaking stuff. He's talented, as long as he's throwing the ball over the plate, and the reports say he is."

Parker didn't win a rotation spot in spring training because of poor control (13 walks in 11 innings), but he righted that in the minors, averaging just 2.6 walks per nine while posting a 2.18 ERA.

"I basically get a chance to reinvent myself, and that's what I'm going to do," he said. "It's something I took pride in once I got sent down. I put a lot of time in on it, and it's reflective so far."

Parker is a marginal option in mixed leagues because of the non-contender he pitches for, but his stuff is ace-like long term. And, it will be good to know, he has already gotten his Tommy John surgery out of the way, if you're looking for a long-term keeper league option.

• The Red Sox went to Lars Anderson this week to play some outfield in the majors, but Will Middlebrooks is the hitting prospect to watch. He already has eight homers in Triple A, trailing only journeyman Brad Eldred for the minor league lead (12), and is hitting .375. Kevin Youkilis or Adrian Gonzalez needing a DL stint would get Middlebrooks a quick call-up; failing that, the Red Sox probably will need to make a long-term decision on Youkilis. Youk has a $13 million option due this offseason with just a $1 million buyout. He is a candidate to trade if the Red Sox discover they cannot keep up with the Yankees and Rays in the AL East.

• White Sox outfield prospect Jared Mitchell is making a comeback of sorts. He is hitting .309 with 16 walks and five steals and a .962 OPS in Double-A. He could move up the ladder to Triple-A and bid to impact fantasy late in 2012 or early 2013.

• Rangers shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar, a favorite of prospect hounds because he is the youngest player in Double-A, is hitting just .215. It doesn't say a lot about his long-term prospects, but it does tell us we probably shouldn't be expecting to see him in the majors this year.

• Cardinals pitching prospect Shelby Miller has gotten over a poor start in Triple A and tossed five shutout innings with six strikeouts Tuesday. He is going to be a factor in fantasy in the second half.

• The Braves don't need a starter now with Tim Hudson (back) likely bouncing Randall Delgado to Triple A, but Julio Teheran has kicked his spring funk and has been lights out of late in the minors. We still consider Bauer, and now likely Bundy, better long-term pitching prospects.

Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).

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