SF Giants Way-Too-Early 2021 MLB Draft Targets:
3. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, University of Mississippi
Out of high school, the Pirates drafted Gunnar Hoglund with the 36th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. The sides failed to finalize an agreement though and he honored his comitment to the University of Mississippi. After an impressive start to the 2020 season, Hoglund appears poised to be drafted even higher next summer.
Hoglund’s calling card has always been pitchability. Even as a high schooler, Hoglund seemed tailor-made to be a mid-rotation starter. His fastball velocity varies from 88-96 mph. While not overwhelming, his advanced command of the pitch pair with high spin rates and solid life that still give it the potential to be a plus pitch.
After an inconsistent first-year on campus, Hoglund dedicated his offseason to developing his breaking ball. In the limited sample this spring, his slider looked like a legitimate above-average pitch. He’s also thrown a changeup, but it’s easily his third-best pitch.
If Hoglund is able to see any jump in his velocity, he easily jumps into the top ten picks of the draft and potentially even higher. Even if his fastball velocity remains stagnant, his command and feel for pitching are advanced enough to make it work.
We’ve seen Zaidi and Holmes prioritize spin-rate and feeling for a breaking ball over velocity in the previous two drafts and Hoglund fits that profile. His dominating 2020 (37 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1.16 ERA, in 23.1 innings), makes it even easier to see that happening.
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