A swingman on a loaded 2016 Florida pitching staff that included five future first-rounders, Dunning was on the White Sox short list of options to take with the 26th overall selection that June. They went with Zack Burdi instead and saw Dunning sign with the Nationals for $2 million at No. 29, yet landed him six months later along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in the Adam Eaton trade. He appeared on the verge of reaching Chicago before he missed the final two months of the 2018 season with a strained elbow, then missed all of last year following Tommy John surgery in March.
Before he got hurt, scouts debated which of Dunning's pitches was the best because he had three that played as plus offerings at times. His fastball parked in the low 90s and reached 96 mph, playing well above its velocity because he created heavy sink and commanded it well to both sides of the plate. His curveball had surpassed his slider as his best breaking option since he switched organizations, and both stood out more for their break but had enough power.
Dunning's changeup gave him a potential fourth solid pitch, though it wasn't 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, displaying nice feel for pitching and the ability to throw strikes with all of his offerings. He'll return at some point this year but may not be in position to impact the big league rotation until 2021.
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.
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.