The 26th overall pick in the 2016 Draft off a Florida staff that included five eventual first-rounders, Dunning already has been traded twice during his pro career. The Nationals sent him to the White Sox along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in exchange for Adam Eaton six months after signing him for $2 million, and Chicago shipped him and lefty pitching prospect Avery Weems to the Rangers for Lance Lynn last December. In between, Dunning strained his elbow in mid-2018, had Tommy John surgery in March 2019 and rebounded to pitch well in seven starts for the White Sox last summer.
The younger brother of former Giants right-hander Jake Dunning, Dane does a masterful job of mixing five pitches. His heavy low-90s sinker and low-80s slider were his most effective offerings during his big league debut and are his main weapons against right-handers. He'll employ a low-90s four-seam fastball and an upper-70s curveball against left-handers and he'll use his fading mid-80s changeup against hitters from both sides.
While Dunning may not have a true plus pitch, he keeps hitters off balance with his deep repertoire and pounds the strike zone with all of his offerings. He has a high floor as a good bet to become a dependable mid-rotation option. He could be Texas' most effective starter in 2021 as a rookie.
2020 Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
A swingman on a loaded 2016 Florida pitching staff that included five future first-rounders, Dunning went 26th overall to the Nationals that June. The White Sox acquired him six months later along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in the Adam Eaton trade, only to see him miss the final two months of the 2018 season with a strained elbow and then all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery in March. He returned this summer to become one of Chicago's most effective starters before the Rangers acquired him and lefty pitching prospect Avery Weems in exchange for Lance Lynn in December.
Scouts debate which of Dunning's pitches is the best because he has three that play as plus offerings at times. His fastball parks in the low 90s and reaches 96 mph, playing well above its velocity because he creates heavy sink and commands it well to both sides of the plate. His curveball has surpassed his slider as his best breaking option since he switched organizations, though he used his slider more in his first taste of the big leagues, and both stand out more for their break while featuring enough power.
Dunning's changeup gives him a potential fourth solid pitch, though it's not as consistently effective as the rest of his repertoire. He had the highest floor among the system's mound prospects before his elbow blew out, and he has regained his feel for pitching and ability to throw strikes with all of his offerings. He fit right in as a dependable middle-of-the-rotation option and should be able to handle that role for years to come.
2019 Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
A swingman on a 2016 Florida Gators pitching staff that included five future first-round picks and perhaps as many as nine future big league starters, Dunning interested the White Sox as a possible selection with their No. 26 overall pick in that Draft. They opted for Zack Burdi instead and the Nationals signed Dunning for $2 million at No. 29, but Chicago landed him six months later along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in the Adam Eaton trade. He developed into the Sox's highest-floor pitching prospect before missing the final two months of the 2018 season with a strained elbow and undergoing Tommy John surgery this March.
Dunning has three different pitches that grade as plus at their best. He doesn't light up radar guns with a low-90s fastball that peaks at 96 mph, but it's a weapon because its heavy sink makes it hard to lift and he commands it so well to both sides of the plate. Some evaluators believe his curveball has surpassed his slider as his better breaking ball, and both offerings have plenty of depth and enough power.
Dunning's changeup gives him a fourth pitch that should be at least solid, though it's not quite as consistent as his others. He repeats his athletic delivery, provides a lot of strikes and has tremendous feel for his craft. Before his elbow gave out, he was on the verge of stepping into Chicago's rotation but now will miss all of 2019 and likely part of 2020.
2018 Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 55
Though he served as a swingman on a loaded 2016 Florida pitching staff that ultimately may include as many as five first-round picks, scouts still projected Dunning as a slam-dunk starter in pro ball. The White Sox considered him with the 26th overall pick before taking Zack Burdi, then acquired him six months later from the Nationals (who signed him for $2 million at No. 29) as part of the Adam Eaton trade. The younger brother of ex-big leaguer Jake Dunning, he posted a 2.94 ERA with a 168/38 K/BB ratio at two Class A stops in his first full pro season.
Dunning's fastball works as a plus pitch, more for its heavy sink than its velocity, which is fine sitting in the low 90s and peaking at 96. He recorded a 1.7 groundout/flyout ratio in his first two years in the Minors, though his home run rate spiked to 1.1 per nine innings in high Class A after he surrendered just one homer in his first 61 2/3 pro innings. His fastball also plays up because of his ability to command it to both sides of the plate.
Dunning's slider with depth and his changeup both have the potential to become at least solid secondary offerings, though they need more consistency. He has an athletic delivery and repeats it fairly well, allowing him to pound the strike zone. The most polished of Chicago's top pitching prospects, he was rushing toward the big leagues until he was shut down in late June with a moderate elbow sprain.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
Though he was a swingman on a loaded Florida pitching staff in 2016, most clubs had no trouble projecting Dunning as a mid-rotation starter. He was in a group of players the White Sox considered taking with the 26th overall pick in the 2016 Draft before they opted for a different college right-hander in Zack Burdi. He went three choices later to the Nationals, then wound up in Chicago anyway as part of a three-prospect package for Adam Eaton.
Dunning's fastball can hit 96 mph in short stints but usually sits in the low 90s when he starts. His heater still plays as a plus pitch because it features heavy sink, as evidenced by his 3.1 groundout-to-flyout ratio in his pro debut. He has a pair of solid secondary offerings in his changeup, which he has full trust in, and his slider, which can lack consistency but has power and depth.
Dunning has an athletic, durable build and a fresh arm, so he should be able to handle a starter's workload. He fills the strike zone so easily that he ranked sixth in NCAA Division I in K/BB ratio (7.3) in his Draft year. His combination of stuff and polish should allow him to move rapidly through the Minors.