Before 2009: Mike Dunn’s “Before 2009” is a lot more interesting than…oh, wait. I used that line already? Well, Wilkin de la Rosa isn’t the only left-handed outfielder turned pitcher in the organization.
Picked in the 33rd round of the 2004 draft by the Yankees, Dunn debuted the following season as an outfielder in the Gulf Coast League, where he’d hit .194 with no home runs and nine RBI in 24 games. He also played for High-A Tampa — somewhat odd considering his numbers and lack of experience — and posted similar statistics, hitting .167 with no home runs and six RBI in 28 games.
He started the 2006 season at Low-A Charleston, again as an outfielder. His career in the outfield would last another month, as he hit just .086 with no home runs and two RBI in 14 games before starting his transition to the mound.
Dunn returned to the Gulf Coast League as a relief pitcher, and the move paid immediate dividends. In 11 appearances, he was 3-0 with an 0.73 ERA, and the opposition hit just .155 off of him. He was sent to Short Season-A Staten Island to finish the season, and posted no record and a 5.68 ERA in three appearances. However, New York-Penn League batters hit just .125 off of him, as Dunn was ultimately victimized by his seven walks more than his three hits allowed in 6.1 frames pitched.
2007 marked Dunn’s first full season on the mound, and he was inserted into Low-A Charleston’s starting rotation. I n 27 starts, Dunn went 12-5 and posted a 3.42 ERA, which was good for ninth best among qualifying pitchers in the South Atlantic League.
His progression of one level per year continued in 2008, as he pitched in all but one of his games while wearing the uniform of the High-A Tampa Yankees. He appeared in 30 games, including 22 starts. He was 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA for Tampa before being called up at the tail end of the year to join Double-A Trenton. Dunn picked up the win in his only relief appearance of the year, and was used in some key situations in the postseason as he helped the Thunder earn their second straight championship ring.
2009: Dunn, who was added to the Yankees 40-man roster prior to the start of the year, began his season in Trenton’s bullpen, and pitched very well until his inevitable promotion to Triple-A Scranton in the middle of July. For the Thunder, Dunn went 3-3 with a 3.71 ERA and two saves. He tallied 76 strikeouts in just 53.1 innings of work.
Dunn’s time in Scranton would last just a month and a half, as his 1-0 record and 2.25 ERA in 12 appearances was good enough to earn him a call-up to the Bronx when rosters expanded on September 1st.
After 2009: Dunn is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League for the Surprise Rafters franchise, and has emerged as a top prospect in the organization.
With a spot on the 40-man roster, his penchant for strikeouts and a lack of quality arms from the left side in the organization, Dunn has a real chance to start 2010 as a New York Yankee. Despite the fact that he’s essentially had two careers in baseball, he won’t turn 25 years old until May 23rd of next year, so there is still time for him develop in Triple-A if need be.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com