The news on Class AA Birmingham right-hander Dane Dunning could have been worse, but it also could have been better. Dunning has a moderate elbow sprain that won’t require surgery, but his season is likely over.
Dunning, 23, was examined Wednesday in Chicago by team doctor Nik Verma and will begin a six- to eight-week program of rest and rehab. The Sox said Dunning will begin a throwing program after that, and a plan for his return to pitching will be determined.
Dunning, the Sox’ fourth-ranked pitching prospect behind Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and Alec Hansen, according to MLB Pipeline, is 5-2 with a 2.76 ERA at Birmingham. He left his last start in the fifth inning Saturday.
The Sox acquired Dunning from the Nationals with right-handers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez in a trade for outfielder Adam Eaton on Dec. 7, 2016. Lopez (3-5, 3.73 ERA) arguably has been the Sox’ best starter, but Giolito (5-7, 7.01 ERA, American League-high 47 walks) has struggled.
Dunning had a 2.59 ERA in four starts at high-Class A Winston-Salem before being promoted to Birmingham. Between the two levels, he has struck out 100 batters and walked 26 in 86„ innings. Opponents are batting .235 against him.
It’s the latest injury blow to a Sox prospect. Dunning joins third baseman Jake Burger (ruptured Achilles), the Sox’ first-round pick in 2017; right-hander Zack Burdi (Tommy John surgery), a first-round pick in 2016; and outfielder Ryan Cordell (broken clavicle) among farm-system standouts on the sidelines.
In addition, outfielders Luis Robert (sprained thumb), Eloy Jimenez (knee, chest muscle) and Micker Adolfo (sprained ulnar collateral ligament) and right-hander Hansen (forearm soreness) missed time during and after spring training. All four since have returned to action.
Dunning is the 56th-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. The Sox’ farm system features eight of the top 100, tied with the Braves for the most in the majors: Jimenez (No. 4), Kopech (No. 12), Robert (No. 26), Cease (No. 43), Hansen (No. 49), Dunning (No. 56), outfielder Blake Rutherford (No. 85) and catcher Zack Collins (No. 99).
The Sox will honor their 1993 AL West title team before their game July 14 against the Royals.
Players Frank Thomas, Ozzie Guillen, Bo Jackson, Jack McDowell, Tim Raines, Wilson Alvarez, Jason Bere, Chuck Cary, Brian Drahman, Barry Jones, Donn Pall, Matt Merullo, Craig Grebeck, Mike Huff, Lance Johnson, Warren Newson and Dan Pasqua, manager Gene Lamont and coaches Terry Bevington, Walt Hriniak, Doug Mansolino and Dewey Robinson are scheduled to participate in a pregame ceremony.
This and that
The Sox signed left-hander Konnor Pilkington of Mississippi State, their third-round draft pick this month, for $650,000, MLB.com’s Jim Callis reported.
Outfielder Steele Walker of Oklahoma, their second-round pick, was on the field before the game. That’s an indication he has been signed, although it was not announced.
• Class AAA Charlotte right-handers Donny Roach and Thyago Vieira were named to the International League all-star team.
• Right-hander Jimmy Lambert, who was second in the high-Class A Carolina League in strikeouts, was promoted from Winston-Salem to Birmingham. Left-hander John Parke was promoted from low-Class A Kannapolis to Winston-Salem.