For much of the year, the Florida Gators baseball team has been ranked No. 1 in the country. While the entire team deserves credit for that feat, most of the credit will go to one of the deepest pitching rosters that Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan has produced in his career. Dane Dunning, who was drafted by the Washington Nationals on Thursday night, has emerged as one of the most important pieces to the pitching staff.
Dunning’s versatility and consistency is what won him over for Washington. In Dunning, the Nationals are getting a pitcher that is has a high ceiling and has proven himself as a starter and a bullpen giant.
While the Gator season enters into the most important series of the season, maybe the most important moment of Dunning’s career happened on Thursday night when his phone rang and it was Washington calling.
Player Evaluation: Dunning is a sizeable right handed pitcher that stands at 6-3 and weighs 205 pounds. As a freshman, playing time was limited for new Gator pitcher, but Dunning showed promise and Kevin O’Sullivan never doubted his talent.
Dunning has three pitches, a fastball, a slider and a changeup. The Junior from Clay High School pumps his fastball through the strike zone anywhere from 93-95 miles per hour. His ability to go right at batters and throw consistent strikes is what scouts will be awed by when they look at Dunning.
Not only is Dunning commanding on the mound but he is also a team leader that Florida has turned to in some of the most pivotal points in the historic 2016 Gator baseball season.
Career at Florida: Before joining the Florida Gator baseball team in 2013, Dunning tried his luck in the MLB Draft. The righty out of Green Cove Springs was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 34th round with the 1015th overall pick. After the draft, Dunning decided that going the college route would improve his chances in playing at the next level some day.
After throwing just 21 innings total his freshman year, Dunning dealt a 5-2 record in his sophomore season for the Gators. It was in the 2015 Southeastern Conference Tournament when Dunning’s clutch pitching helped the Gators clinch the SEC Tournament Championship. Dunning’s efforts in the tournament helped cement him into a household name in Gainesville.
Entering his junior season, Dunning asked the Gator coaching staff if he could come out of the bullpen rather than being a midweek starter. His wish was granted, and he has had the opportunity to face SEC competition on the weekends that will have him well prepared to go to the next level. Dunning coming out of the bullpen has provided the Gators with another strong arm for what is regarded as one of the best pitching staffs in the NCAA.
Dunning has an 11-6 record during his tenure wearing the orange and blue to go along with a 3.48 ERA.