Converted Catcher Hagen Danner Aims To Help Blue Jays
Just when he'd started feeling good last April, Hagen Danner yanked a fastball, felt a pull in his elbow and feared the worst.
“I immediately thought, ‘Oh, gosh, here we go,’ ” he recalled. “There's going to be surgery.”
The 24-year-old righthander didn’t need surgery, but the damage from a Grade 2 partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow cost him the rest of his season at Double-A New Hampshire.
Still, he recovered in time for eight impressive Arizona Fall League outings, heading home “so happy because I felt like I was ready.”
Maintaining that readiness this season should land Danner right back on the radar of the Blue Jays, who added him to the 40-man roster after the 2021 season anticipating that he could make a quick jump.
Drafted in the second round in 2017, Danner has thrown just 39.1 innings over the past two years after converting from catching to pitching. His raw stuff—including an upper-90s fastball, a wipeout slider and a slow curveball—will work in his favor and could make him a weapon out of the bullpen.
Danner's full repertoire was on display in his spring debut, when his heater topped out at 97 mph and his slider froze Yankees hitters. He’ll need to keep pitching that way to stick out after the Blue Jays deepened their bullpen, but that isn’t changing his goals.
“I really want to make sure to get through the whole year, making sure I stay on top of my recovery," Danner said. "It really took rehab for me to realize how important that was. Now that I know, I'm on top of it every day.
“My goal would be to be able to help the club in the playoffs this year . . . just because that would mean that I probably lasted the entire season. I'd like to get up a lot earlier than that, but no matter what, I'd love to just help the team.”