In an offseason of many big trades for the Chicago White Sox, the Adam Eaton trade stood out. It stood out because of the return the Sox received for the 28-year old outfielder. It was huge. Not only did they receive the number one pitching prospect in baseball in Lucas Giolito, but they also acquired Reynaldo Lopez, another top-50 pitching prospect. A lot of questions were asked following the trade, mostly directed towards the Nationals. Why would they give up so much for a guy who has never even been named an All-Star?
The thing about the trade, it indeed was a bit lopsided. Sox general manager Rick Hahn immediately gained the trust of his team’s faithful. He had acquired two top-50 prospects for one player that wasn’t named Jose Quintana or Jose Abreu. But what if I told you, they received more than just Giolito and Lopez? Well, they did.
His name is Dane Dunning. Dunning was the third piece of the trade and is so often forgotten because of the others that were in the package with him. But there is a lot about Dunning that needs to be heard.
So who is Dane?
Dane Dunning is a 6’3, 205 pound right handed pitcher. He was a Florida native who later went on to attend Florida. He was drafted twice, once in the 34th round of the 2013 draft and then again finally in the first round of the 2016 draft. He is currently ranked eighth in the White Sox system behind Zack Burdi and in front of Alec Hansen.
Dunning is often seen as a reliever because of his repertoire. It most notably includes a fastball that ranges between 93-94. His go to off-speed is his changeup. He also equips an 11’5 shaped curve, which ranges in the low 80’s. He sometimes struggles with his control, but makes up with his above-average ability to forces swings and misses.
Dunning became known during his time in Gainesville as a Florida Gator. A Florida native, Dunning graduated from Clay High School and then elected to attend Florida even after being selected in the 34th round of the 2013 draft. It was at Florida where he found a great amount of success. He didn’t play during his freshman season, but finally made his debut as a sophomore. Used dominantly as a reliever, Dunning registered a K/9 mark of 11.57 in 21 innings that season. Only one of his sixteen appearances was a start. His numbers improved during his junior year. The ERA dropped over one point, and he maintained a good K/9 mark at 8.70. Despite his success in his first two official seasons, Dunning truly made his name known during his senior year in the spring of 2016. He registered a record of 6-3 with 2 saves, a 2.29 ERA, and a 10.07 K/9 in 78.2 innings.
Unfortunately for Dunning, he pitched for Florida at a time where they were loaded in terms of pitching. Though he has the stuff to start, the Gators elected to use him dominantly as a reliever. Not necessarily because there were better pitching options, but more so because his skill set plays out better from the bullpen. Although he was able to get a few Tuesday starts here and there, he spent the weekends in the bullpen. When Dunning was drafted, it was likely that he would be return to a starter role.
Minor League Experience
The professional debut of Dunning was delayed due to the Gators run in the 2016 NCAA Baseball Tournament. When he started, however, it was evident that his success was carrying on from his senior season. The only difference was that his success was now coming as a starter. The quick-armed Dunning appeared in eight game, starting all of them. In those eight he recorded an ERA of 2.02 with a K/9 of 8.1. His time with the Nationals was very brief, as they sent him to the White Sox just six months after selecting him in the draft. He departed from the Nets system along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez.
Future with the White Sox
With his arrival to the White Sox, Dunning finds himself in situation similar to the one he was in at Florida. He is surrounded by fantastic arms. In fact, they are so great that he may just find himself as a relief specialist once again. The future of the White Sox rotation should consist of Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, and Reynaldo Lopez. Even this fantastic group leaves out others such as Tyler Danish, Alec Hansen, and Spencer Adams. Though he found some success as a starter in his brief minors stint, his college career may serve example to why he would be a great bullpen piece.
With that being said, Dunning could be just what the White Sox need. If there is one thing they have lacked in the last few years, it is no debate bullpen dependability. Inconsistent arms have come and gone, failing during their test time in the Pale Hose bullpen. They did strike gold with Nate Jones, as well as the signing of David Robertson a few years back. Considering Robertson is likely on his way out very soon, Dunning could provide security to a bullpen that will need it. Zack Burdi is another future reliever currently in the system, and he has not failed to excite as he has consistently hit triple digits during spring training. Burdi and Dunning could potentially become an intimidating back-to-back punch sometime down the road.
DO NOT forget about Dane
The skill of Dunning is not the type to forget about. Do not make the mistake of forgetting about his presence just because of the other names acquired recently. He is a more than powerful force and could one day be a more than reliable arm for the White Sox. And because of the maturity and skill that Dunning already possesses, that day could be sooner than expected.