At this time last year, Adam Dunn was the center of attention in the White Sox’ camp for all the wrong reasons. After signing a four-year, $56 million contract as a free agent prior to the 2011 season, Dunn had an uncharacteristically bad inaugural campaign for the South Siders.
Playing in 122 games primarily as the team’s designated hitter, the now 33-year-old posted a career-worst slash line of .159/.292/.277 with 11 home runs and 177/75 K/BB over 496 plate appearances. Furthermore, the slugger’s dismal performance resulted in a -3.1 WAR, which sticks out like a sore thumb on his otherwise impressive résumé.
Desperately in need of a bounce-back season in 2012, Dunn’s production was more in line with his career averages. Overall, he finished the year with 41 home runs in 151 games—the second-highest total in his 12-year career—and paced the American League in both walks (105) and strikeouts (222).
While his .204/.333/.468 slash line was astronomically better than the previous year’s, it still detracted from his overall value and resulted in just a 0.9 WAR. Luckily, at least for Dunn, his contact and on-base rates didn’t trail off until the second half of the season, which played a part in the selection to his second All-Star Game.
Ever since the Reds selected him in the second round of the 1998 draft, Dunn has been the epitome of a three-true-outcome player, meaning that his plate appearances typically result in a walk, strikeout or home run.
Over the course of his 12-year career, the 6'6" slugger has batted .240/.370/.499 with 406 home runs, 2,301 strikeouts and 1,170 walks in 1,721 games with four different organizations. Assuming that he can stay healthy for the remainder of his career, Dunn is on pace to club his 500th career home run at some point during the 2015 season.
But as we shift our focus to the minor leagues, is there a prospect with the potential to be the next Adam Dunn? It’s hard to say with any certainty at this point, but here’s a look at five prospects cut from the same mold.
*All statistics courtesy of BaseballReference.com
*Some scouting notes have been derived from original report as part of each team's top-10 prospects.