Justin Dunn Takes Long Route To Seattle
Justin Dunn figured he’d be in the Mariners' organization, he just assumed it would have been two years earlier.
The 23-year-old righthander thought the Mariners were going to draft him with the 11th overall pick in 2016, but Seattle detoured when outfielder Kyle Lewis fell in its lap. That left Dunn going eight picks later to the Mets.
Now, Dunn is among the rush of prospects the Mariners have acquired this offseason in their rebuild. General manager Jerry Dipoto said they plan to start Dunn in Double-A Arkansas after acquiring him in a seven-player deal that sent closer Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano to the Mets in exchange.
"Coming out of the draft, if you would have asked me three years ago if I was going to be a Mariner, that’s where I would have said I was meant to be,” Dunn said. "So I’m excited.”
The question is whether Dunn is with the Mariners to be a starter or reliever.
He was one of the more unique players drafted in the first round in 2016, considering he hadn’t worked as a starting pitcher at Boston College until that year, which was his junior season. And he’s also faced questions about his durability, despite his upside with a mid-90s fastball and hard slider.
He missed the final three games of his 2017 season with high Class A St. Lucie with shoulder issues, but he bounced back to make 15 starts in 2018 with 105 strikeouts and a 4.22 ERA in 89.2 innings.
"I know that one of the big questions surrounding my name coming out of the draft was am I going to handle the full-season grind of being a starting pitcher,” Dunn said. "To come out this year, first of all, and be healthy and put up good numbers along with it was great.”
He was asked if he prefers starting or if he could see a transition back to the bullpen, much like Diaz made when he was called up from Double-A to the Mariners in 2016.
"I like to think of myself as a pitcher,” Dunn said. "Whatever my manger tells me is the best situation for us to win, that’s what I’m going to do. Whether that be in the bullpen or starting rotation, middle relief, long relief—it doesn’t matter to me. I’m happy and at peace when I’m on the mound, so it doesn’t matter to me what role I’m in.”