Joe Dunand's Power Will Play
In 1994, shortstop Alex Rodriguez played 17 games at Double-A Jacksonville. The 18-year-old hit .288 with one home run, making just a pit stop in the Southern League on his meteoric rise to the majors.
Twenty-five years later, Rodriguez's nephew reported to Jacksonville, though the rise of Joe Dunand has been slower that his famous uncle.
The Marlins drafted Dunand out of North Carolina State in the second round in 2017. So far his $1.2 million bonus seems like a sound investment.
The 23-year-old Dunand’s power is his carrying tool. He hit 14 homers in 127 games last season between high Class A Jupiter and Jacksonville.
"You watch him in (batting practice), and he has a right-center (field) swing,” Jacksonville manager Kevin Randel said. "His power is not off the charts, but it’s gap power and plenty to play in the majors.
"He just needs more consistency, limit his punchouts.”
At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds with soft hands and an above-average arm, Dunand could eventually settle in at third base, where the Marlins are currently playing Brian Anderson.
A number of shortstops have emerged in the Marlins' system since Dunand was drafted, including Jose Devers, Osiris Johnson and Chris Torres.
All three of those shortstops are younger than Dunand—and faster and lighter, too.
"Those guys are more traditional shortstops, and Devers has savvy that is impressive for his age,” Randel said. "Third base is always going to be an option for (Dunand), but we also know he can play shortstop.”
Dunand first got on scouts’ radars as a high school star at Miami’s Gulliver Prep, where he once hit home runs in eight consecutive at-bats, a national record.
He was a three-year starter at NC State and entered the draft following a breakthrough junior season during which he slugged 18 homers and had a 1.000 OPS. Prior to that, he had hit just 11 homers in his first two years.
"I love Joe’s professionalism,” Randel said. "He knows how to go about his work.”
— Osiris Johnson had surgery to repair a right tibial stress fracture in his leg in March and will likely miss the entire season. The 2018 second-rounder finished last season at low Class A Greensboro.
— Righthander Brady Puckett had Tommy John surgery in March and is also likely gone for 2019.