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Blake Dunn Doing It All In Triple-A Debut

Blake Dunn has been all smiles to start the 2024 season. (Anna Rouch/Louisville Bats)
May 15, 2024

Injuries derailed the first two seasons of Blake Dunn’s professional career. After being selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 15th round of the 2021 draft, Dunn sustained a broken nose and a sprained right shoulder, limiting him to 48 games between 2021-22. Last season, the Michigan native took the

Injuries derailed the first two seasons of Blake Dunn’s professional career. After being selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 15th round of the 2021 draft, Dunn sustained a broken nose and a sprained right shoulder, limiting him to 48 games between 2021-22.

Last season, the Michigan native took the baseball world by storm, earning the Reds’ 2023 Sheldon “Chief” Bender Award as the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year following a season in which he batted .312 with 23 home runs, 79 RBI, and 54 stolen bases between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga.

The strong season propelled Dunn to the Louisville Bats for his Triple-A debut in 2024. A mainstay at the top of the Bats’ lineup, Dunn is now just a step away from his Major League debut. Recently, we caught up with Dunn to talk about his road to the Bats, love of all sports growing up, and so much more.

Q: As a kid, how did you get into sports and when did you realize they would be your passion?
A: I got into sports pretty young. My dad was our high school football coach. In elementary school, I would take the bus over to the high school and go into my dad’s office and get my homework done as quickly as I could. Then I’d head out to the football field to be around my dad and the guys. That’s when and how it started. I grew up around sports. I’d play football, I’d play with a mini basketball hoop in the basement, play baseball in the basement and out in the backyard. Then I started running track when I was in middle school. Sports were something that were instilled in me at a young age. As I got older and played a little more, I found out I was pretty good at them. I really enjoy competing and that was the biggest thing. I just love going out there and playing.

Q: In high school, you played four sports for all four years to earn 16 varsity letters. How difficult was that to balance?
A: It was tough. But I wanted to do it and I think it helped develop me into who I am with being able to multitask and be able to do a lot of different things while excelling at them. Whether it was playing both baseball and track in the spring or just being able to have my time and commit it to sports. But also, being able to get my schoolwork done. It was a lot of things encompassed into building me as a person and building me as a competitor. I loved it. Having the background of baseball, basketball, football, and track, along with a background of hard work in the classroom helped me take off when I got to college.

Q: Heading into college at Western Michigan, were there any offers besides baseball?
A: I got some letters from a couple Big Ten schools for football, but they were more like camp invitations and not scholarship offers. Maybe if I had gone to the camps, something could have happened. But all my travel in the summer was put towards baseball so I was going to try to go to baseball. I wouldn’t have changed any part of that. I love baseball and I love the grind.

Blake Dunn has made some sparkling catches in the outfield.Anna Rouch/Louisville Bats

Q: How did you feel when the Reds drafted you in the 15th round?
A: We sat through the first two days of the draft, and nothing came. Then in day three, there was a broadcast we were following. Listening to that, I heard from my agent that the Reds were going to take me in the 15th round. Sure enough, my name came across the broadcast. It was a surreal moment. Finally getting that weight lifted off my shoulders, getting the opportunity to get my foot in the door and just being able to go out there and run with it was awesome.

Q: What was your welcome to professional baseball moment?
A: When we were in draft camp, we were able to meet people in the organization. I was with the outfielders in our position group. We were working with Eric Davis. He’s a legend of the game. That was a moment where I realized where I was at and what things have become for us as baseball players. This is something that we get to do every single day. It’s a game, but it’s also our job, and we get to do this every single day. That was my moment, being able to work with a guy like that.

Q: You recently joined the Reds’ Top 30 prospect list for the first time. How did it feel be added to that list?
A: The first couple years after I was drafted, I was hurt a lot so I didn’t get to play much and show what I could do. Last year was the first year that I stayed healthy and was able to put together a good year. I wanted to make a name for myself. I wanted to be known in the baseball world and get onto the Reds Top 30 list. That was a goal of mine last year. I was pretty excited when I got onto the list in the middle of last season. But it doesn’t stop there. I want to keep climbing the ranks. Just because I’m on there now doesn’t mean it stops. I want to keep performing, I want to keep building off of last year, and I want to keep moving through the organization and helping each team I’m on win as much as possible.

Q: What is your first impression of this current Bats team?
A: We’ve got a good mix of former big leaguers and younger guys who haven’t been there yet. It’s been fun. I like our team. I like the camaraderie. I enjoy learning from everyone in the clubhouse, especially from the guys who haven’t been called up yet that are salivating at the mouth to get to the big leagues just like I am. There isn’t a single person in the clubhouse you can’t learn from, and that’s something I’ve enjoyed about this process so far.

Q: What can fans expect when they see Blake Dunn is in the lineup?
A: I’m going to go out there and I’m going to play hard. If I hit a ground ball, I’m going to try and bust it down the line as fast as I can and maybe beat it out. I’m going to be running all over the outfield diving all over the place to try and make plays. I might run into a home run. I might put a bunt down for a single, then try and steal second. Maybe stretch a double into a triple. I try to play the game as hard as possible because every single day is a blessing for us as players. I know what it’s like to be hurt and not out on the field. So, when I’m out there, I try to play hard and take advantage of every opportunity that’s given to me.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.