Prior to this year not much was thought of Boston College’s Justin Dunn, who at the time was a little known closer. It was not til his coach, Mike Gambino moved him into the starting rotation that he saw his stock sky rocket.
Dunn went from being an afterthought to a highly coveted prospect in a matter of months as he dominated in his new role. He put together a 3-1 record to go along with a 1.34 ERA in eight starts while striking out 49 in 47 innings. Dunn also held opposing batters to a .208 average in his stint as a starter. Mets scouting director, Tommy Tanous liked what he had seen from Dunn during his transition from reliever to starter.
“When he transitioned to a starter in the middle of the year, [assistant scouting director Marc Tramuta] was one of the first to see him and really kind of rang the bell of, ‘This guy could be a starter, not just a reliever,'” Tanous said. “We value starters, especially drafting them high. We value them quite a bit.” (NJ.com)
Dunn, a Long Island native out of Freeport, became the first pitcher the Mets have drafted in the first round since Matt Harvey in 2010. He has great velocity, averaging between 93-96 MPH while able to reach 98 MPH on occasion. He has a four pitch repertoire which includes a fastball, curveball, slider and change-up. Georgia Tech coach, Danny Hall notes the emergence of Dunn’s fastball being complimented by his budding change-up as a lethal combination.
“The change-up was the big equalizer for me in our game,” Hall said. “We could not hit the change-up at all. I was surprised that he lasted that long [in the draft], to be quite honest.” (NY Post)
Justin has also been a player to already show great character at such a young age. In his sophomore year due to an abundance in starters, coach Gambino asked him if he would be willing to move to the bullpen to help on the backend of the game. Without hesitation, worry or care of how it may effect him moving forward as he readied for a major league career, Dunn obliged.
“He said, ‘Yeah, whatever you need me to do, however I can help this team, I’m in,'” Gambino said. “There’s never any hesitation at all. All he cares about is helping the team win.”
His stuff though proved too great to just warrant a closing role. He is an electric pitcher who has been receiving comparable to Kansas City Royals starter, Yordano Ventura. A big difference between the two though may be attitude, as Dunn seems to have a good head on his shoulders at the young age of 20.
With the 19th pick of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Mets hoped to have found another big piece for what has been a constant and consistent growth of homegrown starters. Dunn has proven himself in college to be a team-first player, caring about the big picture and not personal accomplishments.
“That right there shows who Justin is and shows why the New York fans are going to love him so much,” Gambino said. “He’s a young man that just got drafted in the first round by his hometown team, and he was so excited and he can’t wait to become a New York Met. But I talked to him this morning, and he said, ‘I’m so excited, but right now my job is to help my team win. And this is my team right now.'”