Blue Jays Land Upside Pick In Gunnar Hoglund
Righthander Gunnar Hoglund was dominating South Carolina on April 30, allowing only one hit through 5.2 innings with nine strikeouts. Then, as he was trying to close out the sixth inning, he threw a fastball to Brady Allen and felt a little tug and some discomfort in his right elbow.
The Friday night starter for Mississippi shook it off, induced a ground ball to first to end the frame, shut it down for the night and made it through just 18 pitches in his next outing at Texas A&M a week later.
A torn ulnar collateral ligament required Tommy John surgery, ending his season and his push into the top 10 of the 2021 draft. He went under the knife May 18.
As the 21-year-old Hoglund took one step at a time, the Blue Jays stayed engaged and ended up selecting him at No. 19 overall, an upside play for them and a soft landing for the player.
Toronto had built a longstanding relationship with the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Hoglund, a native of Hudson, Fla. Blue Jays scouting director Shane Farrell sad that Alabama area scout Don Norris and others in the scouting department “were in constant communication with both Gunnar and the family" after his surgery.
They invited them for a visit to the complex in Dunedin, Fla., to “give him a peek behind the curtains of the life he'll be walking into with the Blue Jays,” said Farrell.
“The path that a pitcher is about to go down coming back from such an injury is lonely at times, and there are a lot of unknowns," Farrell said.
"So trying to build that comfort for him and his family for the first day that he walks in through the door at the (complex), I think is something that was really important to us so he knew who he would be working with and what our organization is about and our values.”
All that paid off when Hoglund slid down the board.