Name: Justin Dunn
Born: Freeport, New York
Age: 20 (9/22/95)
Height/Weight: 6'1"/170 lbs
School: Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts)
With their first selection in the draft, the 19th pick overall, the Mets selected Justin Dunn, a right-handed pitcher from Boston College. Dunn was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school in the 2013 draft but did not sign with them, instead electing to attend college. Primarily an undistinguished reliever with solid stuff, Dunn took a massive leap forward when he was transitioned into the Eagles' starting rotation a few weeks into the 2016 season. Since then, the right-hander has been lights out, helping lead Boston College to their first ACC Baseball Championship appearance in six years.
Dunn has a four-pitch arsenal anchored by a plus fastball. The pitch typically sits in the low-to-mid 90s, but has been clocked as high as 99 miles per hour. The highest readings on his fastball generally came in relief outings, as the right-hander generally tries to throw slightly below his maximum effort and sits in the low 90s as a starter. The pitch gets good arm-side run. He complements his fastball with a curveball, a slider, and a changeup.
The slider is his most advanced secondary pitch. It sits in the mid-80s, has tight spin, resulting in good vertical drop. It is currently an average pitch, and it flashes plus. His curveball, which resembles a loopier version of his slider, lags a bit further behind in its development. It is thrown a bit slower than his slider, and breaks more loosely. It currently a fringe-average pitch, but flashes average, and almost will certainly improve such that it can be counted on as a major league average pitch. He rounds out his repertoire with a developing change-up. Because Dunn spent more time as a reliever than a starter, he rarely needed a fourth pitch, and as such, its development lags far behind that of his curveball and slider. He has shown a feel for it, but the pitch is currently below average. It flashes average when Dunn is able to throw it low in the zone and more closely mirror the explosive arm action of his fastball accurately.
The right-hander's command of his pitches is fringy at the present, but context is important. Dunn began his college baseball career as a converted infielder. For most of his college career, he was pitching out of the Boston College bullpen. Twenty-sixteen was the first year that Dunn was pitching as a starting pitcher. As such, he leaned more heavily on pitches that are still developing. As the effectiveness of those pitches develop with continued use, so too will his command of them. Dunn walked only sixteen batters in sixty-plus innings in 2016, so the right-hander is cerebral enough of a pitcher to know when to go to the pitches that are working for him and ease off of the pitches that are not.
One of the biggest concerns with Dunn at the present is his size. At 6'1", 170 lbs, there isn't too much more frame to add mass, which could give him additional strength and durability. The 20-year-old did not particularly grow much or put on much weight through his college years thus far, and he is unlikely to add much more barring a late growth spurt. His coaches at Boston College incrementally increased his pitch counts and innings load as he made starts in 2016 as not to place too much of a burden on his arm at once, but the right-hander has only thrown six or more innings four times, and seventy or more pitches six times. Dunn makes the most of his slender frame, using the lower half of his body effectively, with a long stride and open hips that generate velocity. His mechanics are high effort, most notably his arm action and head, leading to concerns that he may develop arm, shoulder, or neck injuries over the course of his career.
Looking ahead, there is no reason to think that Dunn will not be able to successfully complete his transition into pitching as a starting pitcher. His biggest flaws are primarily due to a lack of experience and repetition. With additional innings under his belt, he will be able to refine himself as a pitcher and eliminate those weaknesses.