As we bring SF Giants prospect week to a close, our prospect expert Marc Delucchi looks ahead to this summer’s MLB draft and tries to identify five players who could become Giants targets with the 14th overall selection.
SF Giants Way-Too-Early 2021 MLB Draft Targets:
5. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, University of Mississippi
The Pirates drafted Gunnar Hoglund out of high school with the 36th overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. The sides failed to finalize an agreement, though, and he honored his commitment to the University of Mississippi. After an up-and-down freshman season, Hoglund has been dominant since. Across six starts, Hoglund has completed 35.1 innings, struck out 58, walked just 7, allowed 27 hits, and posted a 2.02 ERA.
Hoglund’s calling card has always been pitchability. Even as a high schooler, Hoglund seemed tailor-made to be a mid-rotation starter. Even though he lacks good extension, he has a simple delivery and consistently locates his pitches, especially his fastball, throughout the strike zone. However, questions about his arsenal’s upside have pushed him towards the back of the first round in most mock drafts and recent rankings.
A fastball-curveball-changeup starter in high school, Hoglund replaced a 12-6 curveball with a sharp slider before last season. It has quickly become his best offering. The slider tunnels exceptionally well with his fastball and has the potential to be his lone plus offering. However, even if it tops out at above-average, he should still have a solid three-pitch mix.
His fastball sits around 92 mph but does seem to generate above-average spin and movement to help it play above the radar gun. Granted, his limited extension counteracts those gains to a certain degree. His changeup remains his least-developed offering but has flashes of average big-league potential as well.
Pitchers like Hoglund, with quick-moving profiles, tend to get drafted ahead of their rankings. The 14th overall selection might be too rich for the Giants to spend on Hoglund. However, Hoglund has shown some of the traits that they have valued in the past and might be willing to accept a below-slot deal that could enable them to take a chance on a riskier prospect later in the draft.
Christian MacLeod is currently projected to go somewhere between the end of the first and beginning of the second round. MacLeod is a pitchability lefty at Mississippi State with a low-90s heater that plays above its velocity because of his deception and a potential plus curveball. If the Giants are looking to create pool flexibility with a “safe” collegiate pitcher, he could emerge as an option as well.