In the two seasons he played since being drafted, Blake Dunn performed well when he was on the field but he struggled to remain on the field as injuries piled up. In 2023, though, he stayed healthy and not only did he continue to perform well, he performed even better than he had in the past and seemed to get better as the season went along.
After playing in just 33 games in 2022 with Daytona due to injuries, the Reds still felt confident in promoting Blake Dunn to High-A to begin the 2023 season. He got out to a hot start with the Dragons and won the Midwest League’s Player of the Month for April. While he did slow down a little bit after that with Dayton, he hit .276/.411/.460 with 19 stolen bases in 47 games through early June.
That performance earned him a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga on June 6th. He went 1-12 in the first three games with the Lookouts before running off an 11-game hit streak. Dunn didn’t slow down from there as he carried things over to July where he hit .446. That was followed up in August with an OPS over 1.000. He would slow down in the final two weeks of the season, going 1-18 to end the regular season.
Blake Dunn finished up his regular season with Chattanooga with a .332/.433/.556 line in 77 games. He added 35 steals and 15 home runs with the Lookouts. That helped him finish the year with 23 home runs and 54 stolen bases to go along with a .312 batting average, a .425 on-base percentage, and a .522 slugging percentage. It was the first time since 1982 that a Reds minor leaguer had 20 or more home runs and 50 or more steals in the same year. Gary Redus did it in 1982 with Triple-A Indianapolis. There’s only full minor league data back to 1960, but no one else in the Reds farm system has done it but Dunn and Redus.
When all was said and done, Blake Dunn led the farm system in hits (143), runs (107), steals (54), and hit by pitches (32). He was second in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. Dunn also finished third in runs batted in (79), and was fifth in walks (62). When you toss all of that together with his defense in center (96 games – he played a little bit in the corners during the year, too), and it makes him an easy choice for Player of the Year in 2023.