With the 19th selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Blue Jays selected RHP Gunnar Hoglund out of the University of Mississippi.
Hoglund was selected by the Pirates with the 36th overall pick out of Fivay High School in Florida back in 2018, but he gambled on himself rather than signing with Pittsburgh and honored his commitment to Ole Miss. He got off to a rough start as a freshman with the Rebels, posting a 5.29 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 14 walks over 68 innings, all while failing to see his stuff take a step forward.
He was very good in four starts during his coronavirus-shortened 2020 season, then saw his fastball move into the mid-90s and his slider into the mid-80s prior to a 2021 season in which he posted a 2.87 ERA with 96 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 62.2 innings. Unfortunately, Hoglund had to undergo Tommy John surgery in May, so in addition to the fact that he won’t be able to pitch for his new team until next year, there will be concerns about whether his improved stuff will return post-surgery.
Regardless, he’s a big, strong right-hander who has dominated SEC competition, so at the very least it seems that he has a high floor.