Justin Dillon was drafted just last year in the 2017 amateur players draft. The former tenth round pick started the season in high-A Dunedin, before quickly jumping to AAA where he dominated. Through four appearances and three starts, Dillon managed a 2-1 record and a sparkling 0.79 ERA.
However, if you’re looking for Justin Dillon now, you’ll find him in double-A New Hampshire. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s teammate has been more human in double-A, and probably more representative of his actual skill.
In triple-A Dillon owned a 98% LOB% and a .143 BABIP. Unless the right-hander is actually just Justin Verlander in disguise, these are not sustainable numbers. For those wondering, I assume that he was sent back to double-A simply because there was not enough room for him in the Buffalo rotation.
The right-hander has made just one start in double-A, pitching six innings, allowing two earned runs, eight hits, one walk, and four strikeouts. While not amazing, this is still a servicable start. In high-A Dunedin, the young righty was mediocre.
Through six appearances and four starts, Dillon posted an 0-3 record, 4.43 ERA, and 2.01 HR/9. However, these numbers are slightly misleading. First of all, he only really had one bad outing in Dunedin. Pitching against the Daytona Tortugas, the young pitcher allowed nine hits, six earned runs, and two walks across 4 1/3 innings. In all of his other appearances, Dillon allowed three earned runs once, one earned run twice, and shut out the other team twice.
Secondly, the right-hander was slightly unlucky in Dunedin. Dillon was severely hurt by an inflated 23.8% HR/FB rate. This bloated rate started to correct itself in Buffalo and New Hampshire, where he allowed a 6.9% and 0% HR/FB rate, respectively. For reference, while making 13 appearances in Lansing in 2017, he allowed no home runs across 23 complete innings.
Dillon has gotten away from his good ground ball rate while in Buffalo and New Hampshire, and his fly ball rate has ballooned as a result. I doubt this is by design, so Dillon should only get better when he returns to his ground ball inducing ways.
The young pitcher needs to induce ground balls as his strikeout numbers are not strong. In Dunedin, New Hampshire, and Buffalo, he has held a 6.85, 6.00, and 7.54 K/9, respectively. These are not strong numbers, and clearly he needs to induce ground balls.
While he struggled with walks in Dunedin, he allowed just three walks in five appearances for New Hampshire and Buffalo. Like Borucki, one would hope that these low walk numbers are the norm, not an anomaly. Based on his numbers in Lansing, holding a decent 4.4% BB% and 1.57 BB/9, it is a reasonable assumption that he has better command than his Dunedin numbers suggest.
Dillon is the oldest of the group, currently 24 years of age, but turning 25 later this year. Because of his age, his prospect clock is a little bit faster than Borucki or Reid-Foley. However, if he can continue the strong numbers he posted in Buffalo while he is in New Hampshire, there is a chance he could make an impact on the big league team midway through the 2019 season or at the start of the 2020 season.