The New York Mets’ farm system received a lot of grief in the offseason, even from the front office. General Manager Sandy Alderson made it clear that he preferred to sign free agents rather than trade for players because the Mets simply didn’t have the high level prospects teams look for in deals. Alderson clarified his remarks later in the winter, indicating that the Mets do have talent teams want but a lot of it is based in the lower levels of the minor leagues. That’s certainly the case on the pitching side, with one of the headliners being St. Lucie right hander Justin Dunn. Dunn, the Mets’ first round draft pick in 2016, is the focus of the first edition of Minor League Mondays for the 2018 campaign.
The Mets were very high on Dunn when they took him out of Boston College due to his electric fastball, which sat at 95 miles per hour and went as high as 99 in college. Dunn complements that fastball with a slider, curveball, and change up, which gave the Mets designs on another elite starter in a few years time. Things didn’t go as planned in 2017 for Dunn, who struggled with High-A St. Lucie, going 5-6 with a 5.00 ERA and even lost his rotation spot for a bit. The Mets decided to have Dunn repeat the level this year, and so far the results have been good.
Dunn has looked excellent in his first two turns, tossing 10 shutout innings while allowing eight hits and striking out 14 batters. Opposing batters have only drawn three walks against Dunn so far, which is a good sign given how much he struggled with walks last season, issuing 48 free passes in 95.1 innings pitched. It’s tough to judge a pitcher off of two starts, but if Dunn can build off of his strong start to the season it will be a great sign for the Mets.
Dunn, who is rated as the Mets’ third best prospect according to MLB.com’s prospect rankings, should spend at least the first half of the season with St. Lucie. If everything goes well there, Dunn could be in line for a mid-season promotion for AA Binghamton. The jump from A ball to AA can often be the most challenging a professional player faces, particularly a pitcher, so it will be worth monitoring how Dunn responds to that challenge when the time comes.