Blue Jays: One prospect pitcher who could progress quickly in 2022

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 01: A Toronto Blue Jays"u2019 Rawlings baseball glove lays on the turf ahead of their MLB game against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on October 1, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 01: A Toronto Blue Jays"u2019 Rawlings baseball glove lays on the turf ahead of their MLB game against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on October 1, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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Selected in the sixth round of the 2021 MLB Draft, right-handed relief pitcher Hayden Juenger wasted no time after being selected by the Blue Jays. The former Missouri State Bears alum went straight from college ball to High-A in Vancouver last year, finishing the campaign with the Canadians relief corps.

After posting a 4.14 ERA through three years and 87.0 innings at Missouri mostly in a relief role, Juenger signed with the Jays for a $197,500 bonus (slot value = $268,200) and the club decided to give him some reps in High-A to finish out the year due to his lighter workload with the Bears in 2021. Other pitchers drafted last year like Chad Dallas, Ricky Tiedemann, and Irv Carter did not get sent to an affiliate team but stayed in Dunedin to work and develop due to their workload in 2021 prior to the draft.

With the Canadians, the Missouri product appeared in 11 games and pitched to a 2.70 ERA through 20.0 innings of work. He posted a 15.3 strikeout rate with 34 K’s compared to his four walks, finishing the small sample size with a 0.750 WHIP. He was used mostly as a middle relief pitcher in the 4-7 innings area while going one or more innings per outing, with seven of those eleven appearances being a minimum of two innings or more. Juenger finished the campaign with a 2-0 record and certainly impressed during his outings with the Canadians roster.

Standing a 6’0″, the right-hander possesses a three-pitch mix of a fastball, slider, and a changeup, with his fastball sitting in the mid-90’s but touching 98 MPH on occasion. Some scouts believe he could become a starter over time and through development but as TSN’s Scott Mitchell mentions, it is more likely that the Blue Jays will fast-track him to the Majors via the bullpen and could be knocking on the MLB doors as soon as this season (later in the year mind you). Mitchell currently has him ranked as the #31 prospect for the Blue Jays while MLB Pipeline does not have him listed in the top #30 at this time.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 MLB Draft, Blue Jays Hayden Juenger will look to improve upon his debut last year and advance up the minor league ladder.

While a lot of things would have to happen for Juenger to potentially make his debut this year with the big league club, if the relief pitcher can continue to work upon his stellar start last season whether it be back in High-A or possible in AA to begin the 2022 campaign, the doors of opportunity will surely open if he starts out strong.

He has the tools to put away hitters (evident by his impressive strikeout rate) but facing advanced hitters over the course of a full season will be his first big test, as his biggest stretch of innings over a single campaign was during his first year at Missouri where he finished with 57.0 innings. It wouldn’t be unrealistic to think he could find himself in AAA come September but there also is the possibility that the Jays look at him in a starting role, which would probably keep him in High-A/AA a little longer.

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Lots to look forward to when it comes to Hayden Juenger, as a strong 2022 campaign could see him looking for a shot at the Major League level sooner rather than later.