White Sox prospect Dane Dunning has been shut down after experiencing renewed discomfort while working through a throwing program, general manager Rick Hahn revealed to reporters (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Scott Merkin). As if that wasn’t ominous enough, Dunning is slated to meet with Dr. James Andrews this week, and Hahn was candid about the ominous nature of his injury. “Everything is on the table including a potential Tommy John surgery,” the GM said.
The 24-year-old Dunning was the third piece acquired in the trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Nationals, joining fellow righties Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito. He’s elevated his prospect status since the time of that deal, currently checking in at No. 80 on MLB.com’s ranking of the game’s Top 100 prospects. Baseball Prospectus ranked him 76th this winter, while he currently checks in just outside the Top 100 (No. 121) on Fangraphs’ rankings.
Last year, Dunning opened the season at Class-A Advanced and moved up to Double-A after four starts — excelling at both levels. His 2018 season was cut short by an elbow sprain, but when he was healthy enough to take the mound, he worked to a terrific 2.71 ERA with 10.4 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 50 percent. In 86 1/3 innings of work, Dunning yielded just two home runs.
Should Dunning require Tommy John surgery, he’d be the second of the White Sox’ top-rated arms to sit out the 2019 campaign while rehabbing a UCL replacement. Righty Michael Kopech underwent the same operation late in the 2018 campaign and won’t be back on the mound for the organization until the 2020 season. Sox fans have been dreaming of a rotation headlined by Kopech, Dunning and fellow highly touted right-hander Dylan Cease, but that the timeline to that potential reality continues to be pushed back by injury troubles.