Mariners Top 20 Prospects – #19 – Joseph Dunigan
This is a series in which I’ll be going over my personal top 20 Seattle Mariners 2010 Prospects. As you can see, I’ll be counting them down, starting at 20, and I’ll try to do them, well, whenever I get the chance. Keep in mind that almost all of these are completely debatable, and reflect only my personal opinions.
Joseph Dunigan is a soon-to-be 24 year old, left handed first baseman, who spent his 2009 season down in high-A – High Desert. He was the Mariners 5th round draft pick back in 2007, and to be honest, he was one of the most challenging players for me to place on this list. He’s quite the intriguing prospect.
The strangest thing about Dunigan, is that he managed to put up some really outstanding numbers in 2009, despite having a nearly Halman-esque K:BB rate of 129:43. Of course, the fact that he was playing in the California League, also known as “Hitter’s Paradise”, had something to do with that, so we’ll certainly be able to get a better grasp on how real his 2009 numbers were once he moves up to AA in 2010.
The power is certainly there though. He hit 30 long balls and posted an incredible .276 ISO this year in High Desert – and California League or not, a number that big is still worth considering. 2009 wasn’t an isolated incident though, anyway – he also hit 14 home runs and posted a .181 ISO in 2008, in the significantly less hitter friendly Midwest league.
Greg Halman’s name came up in this article earlier, and for good reason – he and Joe Dunigan are actually very similar players. They’re a bit different in the sense that they play entirely different positions, but they have extremely similar skill-sets – both of them have the deadly combination of power and speed, but neither of them have been able to post respectable contact rates, so neither of them have put it together. Halman has a bit more raw potential, because he has more power and more speed, but he also has a significantly worse strike out problem, so I guess it evens out, in a way.
But when it gets right down to it, although Dunigan may have been able to ride his raw power and speed to some solid numbers in High Desert, a 129:43 K:BB rate just isn’t going to cut it as he moves forward. He clearly still has some holes in his swing, and he’ll have to fix those if he wants to improve his contact rates, or, for that matter, have any real chance at a future as a big league ball player.
Unfortunately, I literally can’t find any solid info on Joseph Dunigan’s defense, so I’ll just wing it, and ask that anyone who has any insight does me a big favor and let’s me know.
I’m not big on making baseless assumptions, so I’ve only got two things. First, Joe Dunigan has above average speed, and as a first baseman, you really don’t have all that much ground to cover. So one can only infer that he’s probably got pretty good range over at first base. Secondly – and I hate to do this – but I’m going to reference his fielding percentage. Which, although nowhere near a clear indication of a player’s defensive value, can at least tell you, in a sense, whether or not a player has good hands. And, based on his .978 FP in 2008 and his .975 FP in 2009, Joseph Dunigan doesn’t have very good hands. He makes a lot of errors, so that isn’t good, but as we all know, it also doesn’t mean he’s not a good defensive player. Before that can be determined, I’ll need at least a decent amount of new info to appear, because right now there just isn’t anything out there.
It’s clear that Dunigan has a lot of potential and a fairly high ceiling. If he can figure out a couple of aspects of his game, particularly his tendency to strikeout a bunch and his below average knowledge of the strike zone, he could go on to have a successful career as a starting, big league first baseman. That’s a big if though, which is why he’s #19 on this list. If I was a betting man, I’d put a lot of money on Joseph Dunigan’s outlook being a lot clearer after the 2010 season.