Toronto Blue Jays 2021 MLB Draft Report Card
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Best Pure Hitter: The Blue Jays had a pitching heavy 2021 draft, so the winner here is outfielder Jaden Rudd (7), the only position player the team drafted among the top 10 rounds. Toronto scouts liked his contact ability and hit tool in high school and while he hit just .218 in his first taste of pro ball in the Florida Complex League, he showed solid zone control (15.5 BB%, 19.7 K%).
Best Power Hitter: Power was the calling card for third baseman Damiano Palmegiani (14) out of junior college powerhouse JC of Southern Nevada this spring. He hit .389/.521/.867 with 26 home runs in just 203 at-bats prior to getting drafted. In pro ball, the infielder displayed loud exit velocity numbers and hit .333/.458/.997 with two home runs and two doubles as a 21-year-old in the Florida Complex League.
Fastest Runner: Third baseman Riley Tirotta (12) went 43-for-52 (82.6%) in stolen base attempts during his four-year career with Dayton in the Atlantic 10 Conference. He wasn’t quite as aggressive during his pro debut, however, going just 4-for-6 (66.6%) in 30 games with Low-A Dunedin.
Best Defensive Player: The Blue Jays believe in Tirotta’s athleticism and arm strength at third base, where he spent all of his time with Dunedin outside of five games as a designated hitter. Tirotta managed a .931 fielding percentage in 207 innings at the position this summer.
Best Fastball: This spring, lefthander Ricky Tiedemann (3) threw a fastball in the 89-92 mph range and saw the pitch touch 94 mph out of a difficult slot for hitters, but he made a jump in velocity during instructs where he topped out at 98 mph. He was one of the youngest college players in the class after being draft-eligible out of high school in 2020 and attending Golden West (Calif.) JC for a season, where he added plenty of physicality to his frame.
Best Secondary Pitch: Righthander Gunnar Hoglund (1) made an early jump in velocity during the spring which improved his fastball and a slider that should be an above-average offering in the low 80s. Righthander Chad Dallas (4) showed a good slider during instructs that has a case for this category as well.
Best Pro Debut: Rightander Hayden Juenger (6) took steps forward with his strikeout and walk rates during his pro debut. In 20 innings out of the bullpen for High-A Vancouver, Yuenger showed an above-average fastball and changeup, a developing slider and struck out 34 batters (45.9 K%) while walking just four (5.4 BB%).
Best Athlete: Righthander Connor Cooke (10) stood out for his athleticism and took a step forward with his control for Louisiana Lafayette this spring. Tiedemann is also an impressive athlete. Toronto views both pitchers as above-average in this category.
Most Intriguing Background: Catcher Juan Gonzalez (19) was born in Venezuela and played for Spain in the 2019 WBSC 18U World Cup in Korea. That event was the first time Toronto scouts saw Gonzalez play.
Closest To The Majors: Juenger was the most successful member of the Blue Jays’ 2021 class this summer, and with his athleticism, fastball quality and control he could move quickly in a bullpen role. He was in his age-20 season this year and posting in High-A. Among relievers who threw 20 or more innings in High-A West, Juenger’s 41.3 K-BB% was best in the league. Among all pitchers with 20 or more innings, he was second behind only Cubs righthander Caleb Kilian (41.3 K-BB%)
Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): Righthander Matt Svanson (13) was a senior sign out of Lehigh who inked a $50,000 deal after a breakout spring, where he posted a 2.30 ERA in 70.1 innings while ticking his fastball up to 96 mph late in the year. The pitch is a heavy sinker and was in the mid-90s during his pro debut with Dunedin as well, where he posted a 2.30 ERA over 15.2 relief innings while also notching the best strikeout rate (13.2 K/9) of his career.
The One Who Got Away: The Blue Jays tried to add another Canadian to their draft class by taking righthander Micah Bucknam (16) on the final day of the draft, but the No. 129 ranked prospect in the class didn’t agree to a deal with the team. Instead, Bucknam will again be draft-eligible in 2022.