With the 29th overall pick in the draft, the Nationals have selected University of Florida RHP Dane Dunning. He was previously drafted in 2013 by the Blue Jay’s in the 34th round, but did not sign with the team.
The Nationals system is highlighted by 21-year old pitching prospect Lucas Giolito. Other than Giolito, the Nationals farm system has a collection of pitchers including Erick Fedde and Reynaldo Lopez. Dunning becomes yet another righty in their system and is barely younger than Giolito.
Often overshadowed by teammate and sixth-overall pick A.J. Puk, Dunning’s numbers are just as first round worthy. Dunning worked mostly out of the bullpen for the Gator’s this year, pitching in relief for 19 out of his 24 mound appearances. During those outings, he chalked up an impressive 67/9 K/BB in 54 innings. His fastball tops out at 95mph, usually hovering around 92 and 93mph. However, his breaking ball doesn’t have the consistency of his other pitches. MLB.com ranked Dunning slider a 45, a below average grade.
Although he began is career as a starter, the 6’3" righty has shown stronger numbers when coming from the bullpen. A stacked pitching lineup from the Gators inevitably pushed Dunning into a reliever position, where he put up a 2.30 ERA. This can be compared to his 3.04 ERA as a starter. While his ERA in the starting rotation isn’t bad, Dunning provides a stronger arm later in the game rather than the beginning. There’s no doubt that Dunning is a talented young pitcher, but what it comes down to is if he can find his place as a starter or zero in more on being a middle relief asset.
Dane Dunning recruiting video via MLB.com