Spending an evening reading scouting reports about the Blue Jays top draft pick in 2021 (19th overall from Ole Miss), the terms “feel for pitching,” “polish,” and “command,” crop up time and again. Gunnar Hoglund is a big-framed guy who knows how to pitch.
Hoglund, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, is not a fire baller, relying on his ability to move his fastball around all four quadrants of the strike zone to get hitters out. He sits 92-95 with that fastball, and his command will be key moving forward. Hoglund attacks hitters, using his ability to spot his fastball to get ahead in the count. He can run his fastball glove side to right-handed hitters, and arm side to lefties.
Hoglund’s out pitch his slider, described as one of the better ones in his draft class by Joe E. Doyle of Lookout Landing:
It’s gyroscopic in its spin axis lacking much horizontal action, instead relying on late vertical bite to induce ground balls and swing-and-miss. Having struck out 37 hitters in just over 21 innings pitched last season, it’s clear the pitch was effective. That said, like his fastball, it’ll be paramount his slider be commanded well at the next level.
Hoglund’s slider got a little sharper and harder this season according to reports .
Hoglund’s third best offering is his change, a pitch he didn’t have to use all that much in college, and will likely be a focus when he returns to action next year June.
If not for the TJ surgery, by early May, Hoglund had already elbowed his way into consideration as a top-ten pick. He was one of the best pitchers in the SEC in 2020 and 2021. Hoglund may not light up the radar gun, but he knows how to avoid barrels.
It will be interesting to see where Hoglund begins 2022. Traditionally, high draft picks were send to Vancouver in the days when the C’s were a short-season affiliate, then off to High A the following season. He likely still ends up in the northwest next season, but his first few outings will likely be close to the medical staff in Dunedin. Hoglund should move quickly through the system, and likely will meet his back-of-the-rotation innings eater projection. Fastball command and development of a third pitch will be key in his development.