SALT LAKE CITY — Oliver Dunn wasn't a fan of any particular baseball team growing up, but he was certainly a fan of specific players. Prominent among those players was Derek Jeter, the legendary New York Yankee shortstop who holds several all-time marks playing for baseball's most legendary organization and is generally regarded as one of the best to ever play his position.
So you can imagine Dunn's emotions when he learned he'll now have the opportunity to develop within that same organization.
The Yankees made the 5-foot-10, 185-pound former Utah Ute their 11th round draft pick during the third day of the Major League Baseball draft on Wednesday, with Dunn completely thrilled with the prospect.
"I grew up with posters of Derek Jeter on my wall, so now being picked to be part of that incredible organization is just an amazing feeling," Dunn said. "The history they have is unbelievable and the players that have played there obviously speaks for itself and I've wanted to be part of that organization for a long time."
Dunn starred for Cottonwood High School during his prep career and went on to raise his game playing for Utah while catching the notice of several MLB scouts throughout the process. Scouts from the Yankees took increasing interest in the second-baseman late in the process, which made their selection of him not all that big of a surprise.
"Their scouts were on me the most and you obviously love that, knowing what the Yankees are," Dunn said. "So I sort of thought I might get picked by them, but then to have it happen — it's just an unreal feeling and I couldn't be more excited."
Dunn will leave for the Yankees training facility in Tampa on Friday and begin the development process in earnest from that point forward.
"I just want to get acclimated to everything. I want to know how it all works and to get comfortable with coaches," Dunn said. "Then it's just doing what I know and that's to work as hard as I possibly can to reach my goals. That's what has gotten me to this point and I now need to work as hard as I ever have."
Dunn had a hard time narrowing down the list of those who have contributed most to his development, listing high school coaches, offseason developmental league coaches, along with the Ute coaching staff, among others.
"My love for the game and work ethic really started there and that's where it all started picking up," Dunn said. "Then the Utah Marshalls really helped me and then with coach (Bill Kinneberg) at Utah, but really Jay Brossman was a coach who really helped big-time. I've been lucky."
BIG DAY FOR COTTONWOOD
Dunn wasn't the only former Cottonwood Colt to be drafted this season, as pitcher Porter Hodge was selected in the 13th round by the Chicago Cubs. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound righty will now have to make a tough decision to sign with the Cubs or to go ahead with plans to play at Utah.
"He has some great options and opportunities and I really don't know what he's going to do," Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford said. "But he's a kid with a lot of upside and he's now been drafted by an organization that is willing to be patient with him, and a real quality organization."
As for what it means to have two of his players drafted on the same day, Crawford said, "It's just awesome and I'm just so proud of those two. To have two guys go this year is great for Cottonwood and for our program. We hope to have many more in the coming years."
2019 LOCAL DRAFTEES
— Jackson Cluff, BYU, 6-0, 185, shortstop, 6th round (No. 183), Washington Nationals
— Oliver Dunn, Utah, 5-10, 185, second baseman, 11th round (No. 345), New York Yankees14 comments on this story
—Porter Hodge, Cottonwood, 6-4, 230, pitcher, 13th round (No. 402), Chicago Cubs
— Paxton Schultz, Utah Valley, 6-3, 205, pitcher, 14th round (No. 433), Milwaukee Brewers
— Dakota Donovan, Pine View/Central Arizona College, 6-6, 230, pitcher, 16th round (No. 481), Los Angeles Angels
— Jayden Murray, Dixie State, 6-1, 190, pitcher, 23rd round (No. 698), Tampa Bay Rays
— Kayler Yates, Dixie, 6-0, 165, shortstop, 31st round (No. 941), Los Angeles Dodgers
— Cy Nielson, Spanish Fork, 6-3, 210, pitcher, 40th round (No. 1,210) Cleveland Indians