The 2023 season has been a big one for Blake Dunn. The 2021 15th round pick out of Western Michigan began the year having played just 48 games since the draft due to multiple injuries. In 2023 he’s been able to remain on the field and it’s paid off in a big way.

After a hot start in April in Dayton, Dunn hasn’t really slowed down much since. He played in 47 games with the Dragons and put up an OPS of .871 and went 19-for-22 in stolen bases before he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. While there was a step up in competition, Dunn has actually performed better with the Lookouts. In his 68 games he’s hit .347/.436/.582 – an OPS of 1.018 – and he’s stolen 31 bases.

Between his two stops this year that gives him 50 steals in 57 attempts. That’s an 88% success rate. That puts him in rare company. We have data back to 1960 on the Reds farm and only 35 times has a player in the farm system stolen at least 50 bases. That was accomplished by 26 players – including Dunn. Michael Siani got there last season, but prior to that you have to go back to Billy Hamilton and Junior Arias in 2013 for the time before that.

But it’s not just the steals that put Blake Dunn’s 2023 season in rare company. It’s the stolen bases and the home runs. Dunn hit his 22nd home run of the season last night in Pensacola. He’s just the second player in Cincinnati farm system to reach 20 home runs and 50 steals in the same season since 1960. He joins Gary Redus, who accomplished it with 24 home runs and 54 stolen bases for Triple-A Indianapolis in 1982.

Dunn will have an opportunity to match or pass Redus in both categories over the next two weeks. If he remains with the Lookouts for the remainder of the season there are 12 games left on the Chattanooga regular season schedule. They will play six games in Montgomery starting tomorrow and then they’ll wrap up the regular season with six games at home starting on the 12th. The playoffs will begin – and Chattanooga is in there after winning the division in the 1st half – on the 19th.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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14 Responses

  1. Optimist

    Dunn is similar to Redus in a few ways. OTOH, Redus’ 1978 season is one of the all time, all-sports impassables.

  2. BK

    Easily lost among the arrival of so many noteworthy prospects, Dunn’s breakout season has been historic and adds to the significant talent either in the majors or nearly ready to keep the Reds rising into 2024 and beyond. A 20/50 season is no small feat.

    • MBS

      I think it was over a month ago when I said bring up Dunn. I knew that was outside the norms of baseball in general, and the Reds specifically. I just think he’s going to do great up here.

      What’s really surprised me is Hurtubise. I knew he was having a very nice year, but then I looked at his walk and strikeout rate, and they were both sitting around 15%. He’s currently embarrassing AAA pitchers.

      Both of those guys are poised to “keep the Reds rising into 2024”

  3. DaveCT

    I actually appreciate Dunn not having been promoted, as I’m thinking the experience of learning to use his skills to impact a short playoff series could be very valuable. The same with other lookouts such as Hinds, too.

  4. DaveCT

    Another part I enjoy about following Dunn is his drafting and development. Reading his draft scouting report you could see big, big tools. His plus arm, speed and defense put him as a solid, defensive oriented outfield, as his floor. His power was well thought of, too. But his hit tool caused scouts to be cautious. Lo and behold, Dunn’s been able to succeed with that right before our eyes. National publications still seem not to have caught up with Dunn (one presents him as a RH TJ Friedl), and while that’s not a bad thing, I think there is more there, possibly quite a bit more.

    • Optimist

      The late arrival to MLB/”quite a bit more” there comparison is Justin Turner, though Dunn’s path is a bit different. Turner had an age 26 1st full season. Dunn is 25 tomorrow, so, if he keeps this performance going next season at AAA, he’ll match Turner.

      Where the comparison ends is Turner has superior BB/K numbers, but Dunn is clearly a better defender and much more speed on offense. The power is similar, so if Dunn can further hone plate discipline he’s looking at a long career as a regular. If not, he’ll likely surpass Hurtibise as the 4th OFer of the future pretty quickly.

      • DaveCT

        We more or less kept Chris Valaika, who had a nice, but small carrier, over Turner …

      • Optimist

        Valaika shone until he hit AAA, but even in the prior 2 seasons his BB/K was unacceptable; and he didn’t have anywhere near the defensive skills/speed which Dunn has. Analytics proved correct in projecting Valaika’s career given his limits, but he was always 2 or 3 issues away from MLB regular play. Dunn is really just next season and 1 issue (perhaps 1/2 an issue) with the BB/K zone discipline. Again, though, the speed and defense give him a very good floor.

  5. DaveCT

    Really? C’mon.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    They also were scouting/hoping Valaika could stick at SS, even part time. He couldn’t. Seem we are missing anything middle infield baseball rat that the scouting dept. loved at the time. Maybe MK can recall.

  6. RedBB

    Dunn and Hurtubise success probably spelled the end for Michael Siani unfortunately. Hope we don’t regret that one. How are Dunn and Hurtubise’s defense Doug? TIA

    • Optimist

      From the pre-season report on Dunn – plus speed and a plus arm, an above average defender. Siani may be better, and in BHam territory, but if Dunn’s bat plays at all, he’s several levels above Siani. And, yes, he and Hurtubise clearly made Siani expendable, though the timing eliminated any chance of a like-like off season trade of Siani.

    • BK

      Siani doesn’t hit well enough to be more than a player who shuttles between AAA and the majors. Hurtubise and Hinds will need to be added to the 40-man roster. Dunn has passed Siani as well–dropping him from the 40-man roster was inevitable.