SALT LAKE CITY — It's been just over three years since Oliver Dunn last played for Cottonwood High School, although he's still referred to often by Colts coach Jason Crawford, and for good reason.
Baseball's best players more times than not employ a consistent approach and effort that breeds success and helps players meet and even exceed expectations, and according to Crawford, few do it better than Dunn.
"We bring him up to our current players at least once a week," Crawford said. "When we want to talk to our kids about what it takes to be consistent, Oliver Dunn is the best example I can think of."
Dunn's consistent effort continued at the collegiate level playing for Utah and is what led him to become the state's top Major League Baseball draft prospect for this year. The 2019 MLB draft begins Monday and runs through Wednesday and will cover 40 rounds, with the Utah standout middle infielder likely to hear his name called first in what is a typically thin draft class from the state.
What separates him is his work ethic and his belief system. His desire to be better than anyone else has really pushed him into becoming the player he is and where he’s at currently. – Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford, on Oliver Dunn
Dunn is listed as the No. 291 draft prospect by Baseball America, which would make it likely for him to get drafted around the ninth or tenth rounds, the type of spot he's worked hard toward since Crawford began coaching him.
"My first memories of Oliver was a scrawny little 5-foot-5, 110-pound freshman who had so much confidence and the absolute goal of playing professionally," Crawford recalled. "He just had a desire to be better than everyone and a belief that he was, even clear back when he was a little freshman."
Dunn eventually grew into his current 5-10, 185 frame with scouts and college recruiters taking ready notice of his strengths as a player.
"What separates him is his work ethic and his belief system," Crawford said. "His desire to be better than anyone else has really pushed him into becoming the player he is and where he's at currently."
Crawford has watched Dunn's progress at the next level with interest, with none of his current success surprising him. Dunn managed to improve his numbers in each of his three season for the Utes up until this past season, which saw him accumulate a .366 batting average compared with his .319 clip as a sophomore and quite a ways removed from his .250 mark as a freshman.
"He just knows how to work toward his goal and that goal has been to become a top baseball player and professional player for as long as I've known him," Crawford said. "I couldn't be prouder of the progress he's made and couldn't be happier. He deserves it and is a great example of a kid that just has a goal in mind and then does everything in his power to realize that goal."
Dunn stands as the only in-state prospect ranked in the top 500 by Baseball America from both the college and high school ranks, although BYU coaches are confident sophomore infielder Jackson Cluff will hear his name called. Cluff had a somewhat surprising season in his first year back from serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ending the season with a .327 batting average. Other Cougars that could get drafted include senior outfielder Brock Hale and pitcher Justin Sterner.
The first day of the draft will be broadcast live on the MLB Network with the two subsequent days streamed live at MLB.com.