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Top 25 Mets Prospects for 2017, #8: Justin Dunn

The Mets’ top pick in the 2016 draft ranks eighth on our list.

Justin Dunn - Brooklyn Cyclones Gordon Donovan

8. Justin Dunn, RHP

Height: 6'2”, Weight: 185 lbs.
DOB: 9/22/1995 (21)
Acquired: 1st round, 2016 Draft (Boston College)
Bats/Throws: R/R
2016: Brooklyn (Short-A): 11 G (8 GS), 30.0 IP, 25 H, 11 R, 5 ER (1.50 ERA), 10 BB, 35 K

An undistinguished reliever in his freshman and sophomore years of college, Justin Dunn’s stock received a massive amount of helium when he was he was transitioned into the Boston Eagles' starting rotation a few weeks into the 2016 season and dominated. The Mets used their first pick in the 2016 amateur draft to select the Long Island native, and in doing so, they added another explosive, high-upside arm to their system.

Already having thrown 65.2 innings with Boston College—almost 20 innings higher than his previous high of 47.1 IP in 2015—the Mets eased Dunn into the swing of professional baseball, allowing him to accrue 30 more innings spread out over a handful of relief outings and three-inning starts. Dunn’s pitching arsenal is anchored by a plus fastball, which sits in the low-to-mid 90s, and gets good arm-side run but flattens out glove side. The pitch had been clocked as high as 99 MPH during his days relieving with Boston College, but with Brooklyn, Dunn sat mostly 92-95, topping out at 96 MPH.

He complements his fastball with a mid-80s slider with tight spin and good vertical drop, a curveball in the low-80s that has loopier drop than the slider, and a changeup. His slider flashes plus and his best secondary pitch, while his curveball is fringy and flashes average and his changeup lags even further behind. Making Dunn harder to evaluate, he showed stamina problems due in part to his frame and lack of experiencing throwing as many innings as he had in 2016 between Boston College and the Brooklyn Cyclones. By the second or third inning of most outings, his fastball was sitting 90-92, with pitches occasionally dipping into the 80s. His slider and curveball often bled together into an undistinguished slurvy breaking ball. His command, which can already be somewhat fringy because of his mechanics, wavered, and his pitches had less life to them and became more hittable.

Dunn certainly will be given a lot of time adjust to his new role as starting pitcher, but should that not work out, he has the kind of profile that plays up in a bullpen, and should always be able to fall back on that.

Greg says:

The reports I’ve received on Dunn have been decidedly mixed, despite the fact that he regularly touches 95 and has hit as high as 98. The secondaries do need some refinement and distinction, which is unsurprising given how recent a convert he is to starting, and this is something I expect the Mets’ coaches to iron out this spring. At this point, I don’t want to bet against a premium velocity pitching prospect the Mets are developing.

Lukas says:

In retrospect, I had Dunn too low on my list; there’s no way he should be Sanchez/Becerra as I had him (this is what happen when you prospect list with no sleep). Reports have said that Dunn’s stuff comes and goes, but after watching him blow away Zach Collins in the college world series I came away impressed. Remember, Dunn only became a starter this past year. I think more time in the role leaves him as one of the better starting pitching prospects of the 2016 draft.

Steve says:

I was not a fan of the Dunn pick in the draft, and nothing that the right-hander did over the course of the 2016 particularly changed by impression. He gets a pass because it is hard to judge much because of how he was used once he signed and began pitching for the organization, but I came away underwhelmed all three times I saw him start, which included his very first Brooklyn start in July and his last, in September. What I am looking for most out of Dunn in 2017 is stamina. I hope he spends the winter building up arm strength and stamina, and precipitous and noticeable fade after pitching a few innings and a couple dozen pitches becomes a thing of the past. All in all, I still feel that Dunn’s ultimate fate is in the bullpen, but I honestly believe that role might suit him best.