Is Dylan Bundy a cautionary tale, or just plain bad news

Dilip Vishwanat

You probably heard the bad news already, but Baltimore's Dylan Bundy -- by wide acclaim baseball's top pitching prospect -- is heading for Tommy John surgery, and real soon. Bundy hadn't actually pitched in a real game this season, and now he's not going to pitch until sometime next year. At best.

Which brings to mind, once again, that old saying: There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

TINSTAAPP

But TINSTAAPP is a meme rather than a rule. While young pitchers do get hurt and it's distressing for everyone involved, is Dylan Bundy typical of his type? Here are the best pitching prospects before the season, according to John Sickels:

1. Dylan Bundy (Orioles)
2. Gerrit Cole (Pirates)
3. Shelby Miller (Cardinals)
4. Jose Fernandez (Marlins)
5. Trevor Bauer (Indians)
6. Tyler Skaggs (Diamondbacks)
7. Zack Wheeler (Mets)
8. Jameson Taillon (Pirates)
9. Taijuan Walker (Mariners)
10. Archie Bradley (Diamondbacks)

How have those guys fared in the first half of this baseball season? I've graded all of them!

GRADE A+: Shelby Miller
It's not difficult to make a good case for Shelby Miller as one of the five best pitchers in the National League. Not bad for a 22-year-old rookie.

GRADE A: Jose Fernandez
Remember when we worried that the Marlins were rushing Fernandez? He's more than held his own, with a solid ERA and a perfectly acceptable strikeout-to-walk ratio. Considering he's still a month shy of 21 and is pitching for an awful team, Fernandez's season must be classed as wildly successful.

GRADE A-: Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler
Cole's been great, going 3-0 with a 3.44 ERA in his three starts since joining the Pirates earlier this month. Only two things keep him from a full A: It's only three starts, and his strikeout rate is oddly unimpressive. But he's already justified the Pirates' decision to draft him with the No. 1 overall pick two years ago. Wheeler hasn't been as impressive for the Mets, walking eight hitters in two starts, but he's done well enough in the minors to merit this shot with the big club.

GRADE B+: Taijuan Walker, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs
Walker's only 20, but just moved up to the Mariners' Triple-A club and made an impressive debut. Bauer, traded to the Indians last winter because the Diamondbacks were tired of him -- well, also because they were incredibly well-stocked with young pitchers -- has struggled with his control in the minors, but done well enough to earn a few starts with the big club. Skaggs, one of those young Arizona pitchers, has almost exactly mirrored Bauer this season.

GRADE B: Jameson Taillon, Archie Bradley
Taillon and Bradley have both spent this season in Class AA, and both have posted sub-3.00 ERA's while racking up plenty of strikeouts. They've got the same Achilles' heels, too: semi-occasional lapses in control. While their strikeout-to-walk ratios are good, they're hardly overwhelming considering their level. Both remain excellent prospects, but neither seems close to making a meaningful contribution in the majors.

Incomplete: Dylan Bundy
I almost gave him an F ... but that would just be mean, wouldn't it? Or maybe I'm overly sensitive because I've got a few of those in my scholastic records. The point here is that of 10 excellent pitching prospects, circa four or five months ago, only one has been seriously disappointing. You might argue that Bauer's and Skaggs' stocks have fallen slightly, but three months ago there were 10 exciting prospects on this lists, and now there are nine.

There really are pitching prospects. But then again it's been three months. We'll have to check back in five or ten years.

For much more about pitching prospects, please visit SB Nation's Minor League Ball.

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