Continuing our series of 2016 MLB Draft profiles, we turn out gaze towards Boston College right-hander Justin Dunn. Not as well-known pre-season as guys like Connor Jones or A.j. Puk, Dunn opened the season in the bullpen but moved into the starting rotation in April and has performed well enough that he could sneak into the first round. Let's take a look.
As a prep player in Washington, Connecticut, Dunn drew notice for his athleticism and arm strength but as a good student with a Boston College commitment he was a signability risk and fell to the 37th round, drafted by the Dodgers in 2013. He saw little action as a freshman (12.1 innings, 12/11 K/BB, 7.31 ERA) but took a more prominent bullpen role as a sophomore in 2015, throwing 47 innings with a 4.94 ERA but saving five games and posting a 46/21 K/BB. He then went to the Cape Cod League and mowed down wooden bat competition, posting an 18/4 K/BB in 18 innings with a 1.96 ERA and seven saves for Cotuit.
Dunn opened 2016 in the bullpen again, giving up three runs in 13 innings with a 17/3 K/BB. He moved into the starting rotation in April and has continued to dominate in longer outings, with particularly strong performances against tough competition like Virginia (five shutout innings in his first start) and Louisville (one run in six innings). Overall on the season he has a 1.31 ERA in 31.1 innings with a 36/12 K/BB, maintaining the dominance he showed on the Cape.
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.
With his fresh arm, athleticism, improved control, and a complete set of pitches Dunn has a chance to remain a starter as a pro. Pre-season he was seen as something like a third round pick or fourth round pick but he looks like second round or even supplemental round candidate at present. If he remains hot in May, his stock could vault even higher.
In this interview with Amanda Irvine, Dunn reveals that he is a Yankees fan.