Brooklyn Boro

Dunn finally finding his groove in St. Lucie

Former Brooklyn Cyclones Ace Emerging from Early Season Struggles

June 6, 2017 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Right-hander Justin Dunn, the Mets’ first overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft, cruised through his first summer on Coney Island, posting a 1.50 ERA in 11 outings, including eight starts, for the Cyclones. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Cyclones
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Justin Dunn took Coney Island by storm a year ago.

His first season in St. Lucie, Florida hadn’t gone nearly as well for the 21-year-old right-hander, until his last several starts.

The Mets’ first-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft appears to finally be finding his groove at the Class-A Advanced level following a rough start to the campaign, fortifying his position as the franchise’s No. 3 overall prospect.

Dunn, a Freeport, Long Island native whom the Mets selected with the 19th overall pick last June, was pitching to an unseemly 6.89 ERA through his first seven starts at St. Lucie.

But he began to turn things around on May 17, limiting Lakeland to a run on three hits with five strikeouts over five solid frames.

He hasn’t given up a run since, scattering six hits during 11 scoreless innings while fanning 11 and walking only two to lower his ERA to a much more acceptable 4.81.

Dunn turned in his best outing with St. Lucie Monday night against the Florida Fire Frogs, striking out a career-high seven over five innings for his second consecutive victory and upping his record to 4-3.

In his initial professional season, Dunn was nearly unhittable for the Cyclones last summer, going 1-1 with a miniscule 1.50 ERA in 11 outings, including eight starts.

The former Boston College standout struck out 35 and walked 10 across 30 innings for the Baby Bums, finishing with a .227 batting average against and a 1.17 WHIP (walks-plus-hits per innings pitched).

Though he’s a couple of levels away from seriously competing for a spot in the parent club’s starting rotation, Dunn is beginning to live up to the expectations of his former Brooklyn pitching coach Billy Bryk.

“The kid, I can list him as being the third man in a rotation for any team in the big leagues or even a back-end [of the bullpen] guy,” Bryk said last July.

“I’m not saying now, but in the future, that’s what I would list him as on a scouting report. He’s got three or four pitches he can throw for strikes and get guys out with. Then he can go in there for one or two innings with two plus pitches, with that mid- to upper-90s fastball with his slider being up to 85 to 88 [mph] at times.”

Dunn’s St. Lucie revival comes a week shy of the Mets adding a new bushel of prospects via the June 12-14 MLB Draft, and only two weeks away from the Cyclones opening their 17th season on Coney Island.

Brooklyn’s home campaign begins on Tuesday, June 20, when they Bums host their traditional Opening Night rivals, the Staten Island Yankees, at MCU Park.

As the Mets’ top overall pick last summer, Dunn didn’t sign his first pro contract until June 21, delaying his Cyclones’ debut until July 4 at Batavia, when he gave up a pair of hits and struck out two over two scoreless innings.

He made his first appearance on Surf Avenue on July 10, picking up the win in relief against Hudson Valley after holding the Renegades off the board over two hitless frames.

“[He has] two big league pitches that, if he doesn’t make it as a starter, you can see him pitching at the back end,” Bryk noted. “He’s got electric stuff.”

* * *

Though they are still over a week away from formulating an Opening Day roster, the Cyclones are well into their Giveaway schedule for this summer, including a very special tribute to Brooklyn’s most iconic baseball player.

The team announced this week that Friday, Aug. 18 would be Jackie Robinson Night at MCU Park, honoring the 70th anniversary of the civil rights trailblazer’s first season in the majors, forever breaking baseball’s color line.

The team is currently offering special a special No. 42 jersey to benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation. There are a limited number of packages available for $25, which will include a field box ticket, a No. 42 jersey and a $5 donation to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Season ticket holders who would like to arrange for a jersey can call the ticket office at 718-37-BKLYN and pay a $10 upgrade charge.   

Jerseys will be available in sizes ranging from Adult Small-XXL on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The team will also be wearing special Jackie Robinson Night jerseys and caps on Aug. 18 that will be unveiled at a later date. 


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