WASHINGTON — The Nationals have signed first-round pick Dane Dunning, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com.
The Nationals selected Dunning — the second of two first-round picks for Washington — 29th overall out of Florida. Dunning, 21, receives a $2 million signing bonus from Washington, slightly below the $2.034 million allotted slot value for that pick, according to Callis.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, the right-hander from Fleming Island, Fla. appeared mostly in relief for the Gators this season — he went 6-3 with a 2.29 ERA in 33 appearances — although that was largely due to Florida’s loaded starting rotation and he may still project as a starter. He maintained a 1.02 WHIP and 10.07 strikeouts-per-nine ratio.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo spoke of Dunning as a prospect the week after the draft on 106.7 The Fan.
“He’s got the profile; as we say in the draft room, that’s what they look like on TV,” Rizzo told The Sports Junkies.
“6-5, 210 pounds. 95-96 mph fastball,” he continued. “He’s got a good breaking pitch, a changeup. Polished college pitcher, big program, successful, not only in college at Florida but in the summer leagues. He’s a guy we had a long history with as far as seeing him play through high school, through his three years at Florida and a guy that we see as a strong middle-of-the-rotation guy.
“We call him a ‘strong three’ on our draft scale and a guy that we think is really just scratching the surface. He’s got a fresh arm, didn’t pitch much. Didn’t have many starts this year at Florida because they’ve got quite a rotation there, but this guy’s stuff matched up with anybody on their staff and he’s a guy that we think should be a quick-to-the-big-league guy if it all falls the right way for him.”
Dunning pitched crucial innings for Florida in the College World Series, both losing efforts against Texas Tech and eventual NCAA champion Coastal Carolina, before the Gators were eliminated. He pitched 2.2 scoreless innings against Coastal Carolina and allowed one run in one inning against Texas Tech, but had little run support in either outing.
Dunning was unable to sign with the Nationals while still playing at Florida.
He ranked 59th among MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 draft prospects in 2016 and drew a player comparison to Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani.