Mariners prospect Justin Dunn on 1st year with M’s, why Kelenic is ‘special’
Seattle Mariners prospect Justin Dunn likely isn’t far away from making his MLB debut, but for now he’s taking care of business with his Double-A team, the Arkansas Travelers, in the Texas League playoffs.
The 23-year-old Dunn has had a strong first season in the Mariners organization following an offseason blockbuster trade that sent him and fellow Travelers standout Jarred Kelenic from the Mets to Seattle. The right-handed starting pitcher is in the running to be named the Texas League’s pitcher of the year, finishing the regular season by leading the league in both strikeouts (158) and WHIP (1.19) while going 9-5 with a 3.55 ERA on the mound.
“It’s been a good year for me,” Dunn told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom on Wednesday. “I mean, (there’s) a couple things I’m nitpicky about – I’d say I’ve given up a couple too many runs this year. I like to think of myself as being dominant at times and I feel like there was a couple games where I didn’t dominate, but as of late down the stretch I’ve been really happy with my production and my outings lately.”
Dunn is also aware of the eyes that have been on him from the greater Mariners universe this year.
“I’ve definitely seen some stuff on Twitter and I’m really appreciative of it and I can’t wait to get out there and pitch in front of Seattle,” Dunn said.
He shouldn’t have to wait long. Dunn is believed to be slated to join the Mariners roster when the Travelers’ season ends.
‘That kid’s special’
During Dunn’s interview with Bob, Groz and Tom, he also spent some time talking about Kelenic, the 20-year-old outfield phenom who joined the Travelers late in the second half of the season – his second promotion of the year.
“That kid’s special,” Dunn said. “He really rises to the occasion and he’s a perfectionist, which is something that I appreciate because I like to be the same way.”
Kelenic has been lauded not just for his on-field talent but his knowledge of the game, something certainly emphasized by a story Dunn told about Kelenic’s first day with Arkansas.
“Even his first day here, he got up and was talking about how he was sitting on a certain pitch and (how) he was OK (with) getting beat in his first at-bat because he knew he was gonna get a certain pitch later in the game in a big spot,” Dunn said. “And he got it, and I mean he hit it about 450 feet – it was a go-ahead homer. Just to hear someone 20 years old talk like that and how advanced he is and see how hard he works and how much he loves the game is special. I’m really excited to play with him for a long time and happy I don’t have to face him, for sure.”