One longtime Mariners top prospect (Kyle Lewis) is already on his way to the big leagues, but Greg Johns of MLB.com writes that the Seattle organization is also expected to call up righty Justin Dunn now that his Double-A season has wrapped up. Dunn came to the Mariners alongside outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic and hard-throwing right-hander Gerson Bautista in the trade that sent Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to the Mets.
Kelenic, who has breezed through three minor league levels this season and reached Double-A as a 20-year-old, has garnered the most fanfare of the players Seattle picked up in that deal. But Dunn has elevated his own stock in 2019 and now sits 73rd and 98th on the respective midseason leaguewide prospect rankings from MLB.com and Fangraphs. The 23-year-old has spent the season with Double-A Arkansas, where he’s posted a 3.55 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9 and a 37.2 percent ground-ball rate in 131 2/3 innings (just shy of his career-high 135 1/3 from 2018).
Dunn draws praise for a heater that sits in the 93-95 mph range (but can reach a bit higher), and MLB.com’s report on him touts both a slider and curveball that can be average or better offerings for him in the big leagues. Fangraphs notes that he also made some gains with his changeup late in 2018 and has improved his slider command, making him a “good bet” to be a fourth starter at the MLB level. MLB.com touts him as a potential midrotation arm.
Like the aforementioned Lewis, Dunn is a former first-round pick himself and, in fact, was selected just eight picks after Lewis in 2016. Both now figure to make their MLB debuts at the same time for the same team, and they’re not the only candidates who could be brought up to the Majors. Johns lists shortstop Donnie Walton and righty Art Warren as others who could make the jump. Seattle would need to open one spot on its 40-man roster in order to accommodate that final wave of promotions, but everyone from that group will be selected to the 40-man roster this winter anyhow, as they’d otherwise be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Assuming that group does indeed get the call, it figures to be an exciting glimpse of the future for Mariners fans who’ve endured some rough lows in 2019 — none worse than this past weekend’s 21-to-1 drubbing at the hands of the division-leading Astros. Dunn is the most highly regarded of the bunch, while Lewis is a ways ahead of Walton and Warren, both of whom rank near the back of the Mariners’ top 30 list at MLB.com. All four from that quartet should get opportunities to prove themselves capable as MLB contributors in the very near future.