Blue Jays: Initial Opinion Of First-Round Pick Gunnar Hoglund
Throughout the final weeks leading up to the draft, the Blue Jays were heavily linked to a pair of high school prospects in Anthony Solometo and Jay Allen. Both of the aforementioned names were on the board when the Jays pick rolled around, but GM Ross Atkins decided to throw fans a little bit of a curveball, and took a chance on the Ole Miss product, Gunnar Hoglund.
Hoglund is a super tantalizing prospect. The right-hander had an excellent season despite pitching in the tough SEC conference, posting a 2.87 ERA, while striking out 96 batters against 17 walks, in 62.2 innings for the Rebels. The right-hander’s excellent 2021 season saw him rise up draft boards, and was viewed by many as a potential top 10 pick.
That all changed on May 11th, as Hoglund’s season was cut short due to an elbow injury that would require Tommy John surgery, and keep him sidelined for the next 12-18 months. This was a huge blow to the Pennsylvania native’s draft stock. Evaluators viewed Hoglund as a safe, high floor prospect thanks to his advanced repertoire, that featured a mid 90’s heater, along with a plus changeup and slider, while also possessing 70 grade command, which was among the best in the class according to Baseball America’s .
The elbow injury tied some serious risk to the Ole Miss product, which scared off a good number of clubs. This allowed the righty to fall all the way to the Blue Jays at pick 19, where Atkins jumped at the opportunity to add such a polished pitcher late in the first round.
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Personally, I like the upside that Hoglund is going to bring to the Jays organization. Though he doesn’t possess the same kind of electric heater that prospects in this draft such as Chase Petty and Gavin Williams do, the Hoglund’s three pitch mix and plus build make him easy to project as a starter long term. Hoglund is a strike thrower and a master at missing bats, posting a WHIP below 1.00 during his final two seasons in Oxford. These are skills that should translate to the next level and bring the Pennsylvania native plenty of success throughout his career.
The elbow injury is definitely concerning, and because of it, we probably won’t see Hoglund pitching on a professional mound until the 2023 season.
I believe that this injury is going to be a one off, as the crafty hurler has great size, listed at 6’4” 220 pounds, with a clean and repeatable delivery where he throws with very little effort. This leads me to believe that once he gets healthy, Hoglund is going to stay on the field and be pitcher that consistently eats innings.
Ross Atkins has done a fantastic job drafting in the first round lately, nabbing highly touted prospects such as Jordan Groshans, Alek Manoah and Austin Martin during the opening round of the last three drafts. It looks like the veteran GM may have struck gold again by being able to scoop up a top 10 talent with the 19th pick. I’m ecstatic to see if Hoglund will be able to reach the same prospect status that those aforementioned names have been able to. He has the command and repertoire to do so, the Ole Miss alum will just have to get back on the field first.