Dylan Bundy, TINSTAAPP, and rational exuberance

Jim Rogash

Monday, Baseball America released its highly anticipated Top 100 Prospects List. The good news for Rangers fans? Shortstop Jurickson Profar tops the list. The good news for Orioles fans? Young right-hander Dylan Bundy is next.

Here are BA's top 10 pitching prospects (with number signifying overall rank):

2. Dylan Bundy, rhp, BAL
5. Jose Fernandez, rhp, MIA
6. Shelby Miller, rhp, STL
7. Gerrit Cole, rhp, PIT
11. Zack Wheeler, rhp, NYM
12. Tyler Skaggs, lhp, ARI
14. Trevor Bauer, rhp, CLE
18. Taijuan Walker, rhp, SEA
19. Jameson Taillon, rhp, PIT
24. Kyle Zimmer, rhp, KC

All of those guys are outstanding prospects, but Bundy's roundly considered the best of the best. And with the Orioles needing some stability in their rotation this season, MASN.com's Steve Melewski asked BA's Jim Callis ... well, see for yourself:

I asked Baseball America's Jim Callis what would be a reasonable progression for the 20-year-old Bundy this season?

"Based on what he did last year, it is certainly reasonable that he will be in the big leagues at some point this season," Callis said. "For all the Orioles did last year, I don't think they have five locks for the rotation. A year ago, I don't think we were talking about Mike Trout having one of the best years a 20-year-old ever had.

"Anything is possible. On sheer talent, not talking about experience, he's the best starter they have. Why can't he make the rotation out of spring training? Now the Orioles are trying to win and he is clearly one of their best five starters.

"I think anything we could come up with would sound reasonable. If you told me Dylan would make the rotation in spring and win 15 games this year, I'm not saying he's a lock for that but I wouldn't say no way to that either. He is that talented."

He is that talented. One concern: Bundy's pitched about 18 innings above Class A. But I'm sure that Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter (and Jim Callis) have a better take on Bundy's abilities than I. What interests me is the general subject of pitching prospects, and the general utility and applicability of the TINSTAAPP Principle.

I've written on the subject before, but I never really tire of it. This time around, I thought I'd compile lists of Baseball America's top 10 pitching prospects from 2006 through 2010, and see what's happened to them in a general sort of way. These lists are simply: where the pitchers ranked overall (including hitters), along with how many seasons it took them to become a star.

I defined "star" quite loosely: at least three Wins Above Replacement (Wins+) in at least one season. Last year, 35 pitchers cleared that bar, from Justin Verlander (7.6) to Josh Johnson (3.1). I think it's important to look for star seasons, since you obviously want your top pitching prospects to become stars, plus you need a few stars to win.

Enough introducing. Here are those lists ...

2006
6. Francisco Liriano (1)
7. Chad Billingsley (2)
8. Justin Verlander (1)
10. Matt Cain (2)
22. Jon Lester (3)
24. Bobby Jenks
34. Scott Olsen
35. Joel Zumaya (1)
36. Mike Pelfrey (3)
37. Jonathan Papelbon (1)

That's an impressive group, with eight stars -- Jenks just missed -- and only Olsen a real bust.

2007
1. Daisuke Matsuzaka (1)
4. Phil Hughes
5. Homer Bailey
10. Andrew Miller
11. Tim Lincecum (2)
16. Yovani Gallardo
20. Mike Pelfrey (2)
21. Matt Garza (2)
23. Adam Miller
24. Clayton Kershaw (3)

This group's not nearly as impressive. Hughes, Gallardo, and Bailey have all shown flashes, but 2012 was Bailey's first good season in the majors and he's still not a sure thing. Both Millers have essentially been busts. Lincecum and Kershaw, of course, became big stars.

2008
3. Joba Chamberlain (2)
4. Clay Buchholz (3)
7. Clayton Kershaw (2)
8. Franklin Morales
9. Homer Bailey
10. David Price (3)
15. Jake McGee
17. Wade Davis
21. Rick Porcello
24. Nick Adenhart

In six seasons in the majors, Morales has 11 wins and 11 saves. He's still in there pitching, though. McGee turned 26 last season, his first good one. The Royals are now hoping Davis can pitch like he did in the minors. Porcello pitched well as a 20-year-old rookie in 2009; since then, not so much. A damned drunk driver killed Nick Adenhart.

2009
2. David Price (2)
4. Tommy Hanson (1)
7. Brett Anderson
9. Madison Bumgarner
10. Neftali Feliz
11. Trevor Cahill (2)
21. Rick Porcello
22. Chris Tillman
25. Brian Matusz
29. Jarrod Parker (4)

Brett Anderson can't stay healthy. I'm surprised that Bumgarner doesn't have a "star season" yet; I suppose it's the park effects that are holding him back, Wins+-wise, but he's obviously been a big success. The Orioles are still waiting for Tillman, though he pitched well in his 15 starts with the big club in 2012. The O's are still waiting for Matusz, too. It took Jarrod Parker a while, but he made it last season with the A's.

2010
2. Stephen Strasburg
5. Brian Matusz
9. Neftali Feliz
14. Madison Bumgarner
17. Martin Perez
18. Jeremy Hellickson
22. Aroldis Chapman (3)
23. Tyler Matzek
24. Casey Kelly
25. Kyle Drabek

No, Strasburg didn't qualify; only 2.7 Wins+ last season. But that's a formality ... sort of. What we're trying to understand is what we can expect from a top pitching prospect. Three years ago, Stephen Strasburg was the top pitching prospect ... and he's won 21 games in those three years. Meanwhile, neither Pérez nor Matzek nor Kelly nor Drabek has done anything good in the major leagues at all.

Here are the number of stars, per list:

2006: 8
2007: 5
2008: 4
2009: 4
2010: 1

That number for 2010 is going to get bigger. But I think we might conclude that roughly half of the top pitching prospects actually become stars, for even a single season. And even when it happens, it usually takes two or three years. Which is merely another warning about expectations.

What does all this mean for Dylan Bundy and the Orioles? It's pointless to generalize from a large group of young pitchers to just one. But I suspect there's a big difference between being the top pitching prospect and the 10th. Based on recent history, there seems to be a real good chance that Bundy's going to enjoy a big season. Just probably not in 2013.

For more about Dylan Bundy and the Orioles, please visit SB Nation's Camden Chat.

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