When this season began, Blake Dunn had played in just 48 professional games despite being drafted in 2021.
Injuries had kept the outfielder off the field in 2021 and 2022, but by the time this season was over he had accomplished a feat matched only once by a Reds prospect since 1963, the beginning of the modern era of the minor leagues.
Dunn is just the second Reds minor leaguer to hit at least 20 home runs and steal at least 50 bases, joining Gary Redus, who had 24 and 54 at Double-A in 1982.
Dunn began the year with High-A Dayton and spent the first two months before joining Double-A Chattanooga on June 6. In 124 games he hit .312/.425/.522 with 23 homers and 54 steals.
Dunn, who turned 25 late in the season, saw his offensive numbers improve at Double-A, where he compiled a .989 OPS.
“He’s a strong, compact kid who has a very nice combination of speed and enough power to really have an impact as a center fielder,” Reds vice president of player development Shawn Pender said.
The Reds drafted Dunn out of Western Michigan in the 15th round in 2021.
“He’s a guy you can see batting first or second in a lineup and really helping a major league club,” Pender said.
The offensive performance was impressive, but it also came from a player who spent most of his time playing center field.
“He plays a good outfield,” Pender said. “He has a solid arm and he can really run.”
A return to full health—he was hit in the face by a pitch in 2021 and contended with a shoulder injury in 2022—was the key to Dunn putting together a breakout season.