Adam Dunn Prospect Retro
Adam Dunn was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the second round of the 1998 draft, out of high school in New Caney, Texas. He was considered a possible first round talent, but a football scholarship to Texas scared some teams away; the Reds signed him and agreed to let him play football, but Dunn dropped the gridiron quickly and turned to baseball full-time. Dunn hit .288/.404/.424 in 34 games for Billings in the Pioneer League, showing strong plate discipline. I would probably give a similar player a B- or something nowadays. . .he was toolsy, fast and strong, but considered a bit raw although his plate discipline was looking decent already.
Moved up to Class A Rockford in 1999, Dunn hit .307/.409/.476 with 11 homers, 46 walks, and 21 steals in 313 at-bats. His OPS and SEC marks were strong, and I gave him a Grade B+ in the '00 book. He was definitely more polished than expected with the bat, and his power/speed combination was highly intriguing.
Dunn spent 2000 with Dayton in the Midwest League since the Reds were without an advanced A-ball affiliate. He hit .281/.438/.469 in 122 games, with 100 walks, 16 homers, and 24 steals. I left him a Grade B+ in the '01 book, noting that the grade was "if anything, too conservative" and saying that he looked like a Seven Skill player.
Dunn began '01 in Double-A, hitting .343/.449/.664 in 39 games, with 12 homers. Promoted to Triple-A, he hit .329/.441/.676 with 20 homers in just 55 games. Moved to the majors, he hit .262/.371/.578 in 66 games, with 19 homers, emerging at age 21 as one of the premier young power hitters in the game.
Since then, Dunn has been productive but at times frustrating for the Reds and their fans. He's lost his ability to steal bases he showed in the minors. His strikeout rate is very high, but so is his walk rate. His batting average is a career just .245, although his high walk rate keeps his OBP strong. And he's hit 40 or more homers three seasons in a row.
In the minors, he was more of a complete player than he's been in the majors, as he's emphasized power development at the expense of other factors. It will be interesting to see how well he ages, and if he's able to take his home run production to the 50-homer level.
Comparable players include Willie McCovey and Harmon Killebrew on the Hall of Fame track, Boog Powell and Bob Allison on the very good track, and Jim Gentile on the good-but-early-fadeout track.