When he spoke to reporters after the Washington Nationals selected him with their second pick of the 2016 MLB Draft, 29th overall, earlier this month, the Florida Gators and right-hander Dane Dunning were still alive in the College World Series. He did, however, sound confident that once his season was over, he would sign with the Nats.
Asked directly if he thought he would sign quickly, Dunning, 21, responded, "Yes, sir. I do. I've still got to finish out my season and hopefully be able to go to the College World Series."
Dunning and the Gators fell short of that goal, but he has apparently signed on with the Nationals, as first reported by MLB.com's Jim Callis this afternoon:
He worked mostly in relief for the Gators this season, going (5-3) in 29 games, with five starts, two saves and a 2.50 ERA in 68 ⅓ IP before the Draft, over which he walked 11 batters (1.45 BB/9), and struck out 78 (10.27 K/9).
Nats' Assistant GM and Vice President of Scouting, Kris Kline, said the right-hander would start in the organization once he signed.
"Definitely going to develop him as a starter," Kline told reporters.
"He's coming from one of the best college staffs is baseball right now. Dane, if he was at another program, he easily would have been the Friday night starter for 95% of the other teams in the country.
"Unfortunately for him he was in a logjam of really talented guys including some underclassmen and ended up assuming the Tuesday night starting role and worked out of the bullpen and [was] kind of the mercenary there.
"We're going to develop him as a starter. He has a really good delivery and some really good stuff."
Kline said after the first night Draft that Dunning would likely begin his pro career in the New York-Penn League once he was signed.
"I think he's going to get his feet wet in Auburn. We need to build him up, and you don't have a lot of innings here, and just because he was used so sporadically I think we need to develop some consistency and get him acclimated to being a starter on every fifth day."
That process will likely start shortly...