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 stealsĀ  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.

 

12 Responses

  1. RedsGettingBetter

    Dunn is one of the most intriguing players to watch out in 2024… Hopefully he will continue being healthy

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Well done. I’d think with another hot start (assuming he begins 2024 in Louisville) his ETA would be the middle of May. He’d make a nice complement to Benson and Fraley as he hit lefties well (1.216 OPS) with 10HR in just 150 ABs. Wasn’t too shabby vs. RHP either (.852 OPS). In a perfect world, he’s a carbon copy of TJ Friedl—a well rounded 2 way player whom you don’t have to platoon.

    • MBS

      I’d love to see Benson, Friedl, Steer, Dunn, and Hurtubise at some point in 24. I’d move Fraley to fulltime DH once that happens. That’s a really good mix of bats, and defense. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be even happier if we sign a legit FA OF who can bat in the middle of the lineup.

      • BK

        Why would you DH Fraley over Benson when Fraley seems to be the better defender?

        Also, if we have faith in Dunn or Hurtubise, it doesn’t make sense to go after a “middle of the lineup” starter for the outfield. I’ll add Hinds to the list of up-and-coming outfielders, and until Hurtubise shows more power, I see him behind Hinds.

      • MK

        BK, I assume you believe that Benson will never improve. He definitely has the physicality (arm strength being the biggest) above the other guys listed. Will is the prototype right fielder and needs to be given that opportunity . Steer and Hurtubise appear to be leftfielders due to their arm strength, with Friedl and Dunn excellent centerfield prospects. Fraley can play any of the three spots.

      • BK

        @MK, Benson has over 4,000 innings playing outfield as a pro. While Benson is two years younger than Fraley, is there a good reason to expect improvement?

        Statcast showed Fraley as having the better arm–that and foot speed are pretty easy to measure accurately. It’s more subjective, but Fraley was positive in outs above average, while Benson was negative. The point of my question is, what have I missed that would make Benson a better defensive OF choice over Fraley?

      • MBS

        @BK, I don’t think there is a ton of difference between Fraley, or Benson in the field. Fraley is a bit more polished, but as MK was saying Benson has the tools, and ability to improve. Also if we’re talking about 9th inning 1 run lead, my guys would be Dunn, Friedl, and Hurtubise in the field to close out that game.

        The reason I’d put Fraley in as the DH is he’s good at DH’ing. Not everyplayer is, but his career DH #’s are better than numbers in the field.

        DH in 171 PA’s, .265/.363/.442
        LF in 324 PA’s, .247/.356/.410
        RF in 299 PA’s, .243/.321/.459

        It’s not a ton of an upgrade over Fraley playing the field, but a lot of guys numbers nose dive if they’re DH’ing as opposed to playing the field.

  3. DaveCT

    I am assuming Dunn’s hit tool rating will be rising. It was a 40 rating in his BA pre-draft scouting report, I believe, but, even then, he was considered to be a ML quality player with his speed, defense, arm, and power. MLB has his hit tool at 50.

    The3 other question I have is his ceiling. As above, I’ve read hisser draft floor was 4/5th OF, and that he currently projects as a RH TJ Friedl. Which isn’t exactly bad value for a 15th rounder. But with the speed, arm, CF defense, power and even an average hit tool, I’m not sure about a comp. for his ceiling. I’ve seen Brett Gardner mentioned here. Harrison Bader at his peak?

    Earlier this year, I posted something along the lines of, “OK, Blake, you’ve made your statement, now, start getting *out of the way* of more pitches.”

    • DaveCT

      Oh, brother … “hisser d?” That should read, pre-draft floor

  4. Optimist

    Sultan has what is my take (and optimistically so!) – a hot start in AAA, say first 250 ABs, and he gets called up.

    If he can maintain the BB/K ratio and a .270 average he’s an easy 3rd/4th OFer. Anything better and he’s a regular.

    That would be a superior late round pick.