Draft Preview: RHP Justin Dunn - Boston College

Justin Dunn

School: Boston College
Position: RHP
Height/Weight: 6’2″, 185 lb
B/T: S/R
D.O.B: 9/22/1995 (20)
Previously Drafted: 2013, 37th (1114) – LAD

2016 Stats (As of June 7th): 4-1, 17 G (seven starts), CG, 60.1 IP, 1.49 ERA, 46 H, 66 K, and 16 BB

Scouting Reports:

“Dunn has always had a plus fastball and he maintained it in his early starts, lighting radar guns up to 98-99 mph and sitting in the 92-95 mph range. He utilizes two breaking balls, both of which are Major League average: a three-quarters curve and a solid hard slider. His changeup will also flash average, though he didn’t need it much as a reliever. His command is fringy at present, but his outstanding stuff helps make up for it.

Many teams feel Dunn has a very good chance to start as a Yordano Ventura type athletic, yet slightly undersized, right-hander. As a result, he was flying up boards, with some feeling he could be gone by the end of the first round.” –MLB.com

Listed at 6-2, 185, Dunn isn’t a huge guy but he is very athletic and generates 93-95 MPH heat with little effort. Despite his relative lack of experience and relief background he has a full arsenal, with a slider in the mid-to-upper-80s, a curve in the lower 80s, and a surprisingly good change-up. While his secondaries need additional polish, all three have the potential to be at least average major league pitches. –John Sickels, Minor League Ball

“A 95 mph fastball with movement plays at any level of baseball, and Dunn is already in possession of one.

The best secondary pitch here is a mid-80s slider. It flashes plus and projects there at maturity. Dunn already has shown feel for using his slider in a variety of ways, as well as the ability to throw his slower, loopier curveball for strikes early in counts. It will probably max out as a fringe-average pitch, but serves as a nice change of pace.

Dunn’s changeup is in its infancy but has shown flashes of big league viability in the upper 80s. Because of where Dunn has spent his college career (geographically) and his clear athleticism, scouts project more heavily onto Dunn’s future grades. Changeups improve with reps, and as a cold-weather reliever for most of his career, those have been hard to come by for him. Athletes with arm actions as explosive as Dunn’s typically find a changeup sooner or later.

Control has been a bit of an issue for Dunn, especially since he moved into the rotation. But there again, context is important when it comes to projection, and the circumstances surrounding Dunn’s development to this point should be taken into account when it comes to projecting his control. Bottom line is he’s a high-upside college arm without a long track record of success as a starter.” –Keith Law, ESPN

Scouting Grades:

Note: These grades are summations based on available scouting information from sources such as Baseball America, MLB.com, and Fangraphs.

(Present/Future value, 20-80 scale)

Fastball: 65/70
Slider: 60/70
Curveball: 50/55
Changeup: 50/60
Control: 40/55
Overall: 50/60

Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:

As a prep player, Justin Dunn was regarded as an interesting prospect thanks to a healthy degree of athleticism and arm strength but overall he was very raw, and he fell to the 37th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He wisely declined the Dodgers overtures and elected to honor his commitment to Boston College where he was used sparingly out of their bullpen as a freshmen. The following year he became a more prominent fixture, throwing 47 innings and saving five games but had an unsightly 4.94 ERA. Then something clicked for Dunn, as he went to the prestigious Cape Code Summer League and dominated, striking out 18 batters over 18.1 IP with a sparkling 1.96 ERA. Dunn carried that success to the bullpen for the Boston College Eagles this year, striking out 17 batters over 13.1 innings with two saves to begin the season. Then in April Boston College coach Mike Gambino made a decision that has sent Dunn’s draft stock through the roof; he moved him into the rotation. As as a starter Dunn has flourished, striking out 43 batters to just 13 walks and has posted a fantastic 1.43 ERA in a very good baseball conference (ACC). He has pitched the perennial doormat BC program to their first Super Regional round in the school’s history and the first NCAA CWS bid in seven years. Dunn’s last two outings have been his best, a complete game win against Georgia Tech on May 21st, and a 11 strikeout performance to defeat Tulane on June 3rd.

Justin Dunn’s arsenal, like many former bullpen hurlers, revolves around a fastball and a slider. His fastball out of the bullpen was lighting up radar guns at 98-99 MPH, but as a starter he has been able to hold his velocity at 93-95 deep into games. His fastball is his best pitch and he has excellent movement thanks to extension. Dunn throws a tight, hard slider in the mid-to-upper 80’s with good tilt and spin. He is able to bury it effectively as an out pitch and it flashes plus and projects there at his maturity. What separates Dunn, however, is he has shown an ability to command a low-80’s three-quarters curveball and has flashed a potentially above-average changeup. Some scouts are bullish on his changeup developing into a solid third offering and he throws it with confidence in the upper 80’s, complementing his fastball well. However, it should be noted that the changeup is still in it’s infancy considering his very recent transition to starting.

Dunn’s delivery is considered clean (video here) and does an excellent job of getting the most out of his slender frame. In his earlier bullpen years, Dunn’s arm dragged across his body and he fell off to the side of the mound on his follow through, but it appears he has cleaned that up. In the limited sample size that he has accumulated as a starter, most scouts believe that his delivery will hold up as a starter.

Like many converted relievers, the most important thing you need to consider when evaluating Dunn’s future potential is his third and fourth offerings. As a reliever, Dunn simply didn’t have to have a full arsenal, and could rely on his fastball-slider combo to overpower hitters in short stints. As a starter, Dunn is now flashing his curveball and changeup consistently, and scouts are scrambling to evaluate it. The reports are mixed, but ESPN’s Keith Law is highly complimentary, saying that pitchers as explosive as Dunn “typically find a changeup sooner or later.” If Dunn can develop his changeup into a above-average or plus pitch alongside his devastating fastball and slider, he has front-line starter potential. That is the key word with Dunn, potential, as there is a lot of projection into his athleticism and arm strength to be able to develop these pitches. The downside to Dunn is the simple unknown due to his tiny sample size of seven starts. Dunn does not have prototypical starter size and scouts have seen very little of his secondary pitches as compared to other available prospects.

Draft Day: 

Dunn’s draft stock has been soaring since the beginning of the year when he was projected as a third or fourth rounder, to possible first rounder, to now as a possibility for the White Sox even at #10. He is being ranked anywhere from #15 overall on ESPN’s big board to #29 at MLB.com. However, in their latest mock drafts, ESPN and MLB are unanimous that Dunn will go #11 to the Seattle Mariners. Could the White Sox snatch Dunn up the pick before? The Sox have been scouting Dunn heavily and depending on how their board plays out, he is a possibility according to several Future Sox sources.

The White Sox have a strong reputation of developing pitchers and have targeted college starters in the first round of their last two drafts. Justin Dunn’s package of athleticism, arm strength, and feel is a pitching coach’s dream and if the Sox believe they can develop his secondary offerings he would be an excellent starting pitching prospect. Due to his meteoric rise, Dunn would be a bit of a suprise at #10 but his voluminous potential might make the selection look very wise in a wide open draft class.

*Interested in other possible future White Sox? Check out our other published draft profiles below and keep an eye out for ones that are upcoming.*

C Zack Collins, Miami
RHP Dakota Hudson, Mississippi State
LHP Braxton Garrett, Florence HS (Alabama)
RHP Cody Sedlock, Illinois
RHP Robert Tyler, Georgia
OF Corey Ray, Louisville
LHP Eric Lauer, Kent State
OF Blake Rutherford, Chaminade HS (California)

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Filed under: Draft Coverage

Tags: Justin Dunn

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