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The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2021

The last article of this series will focus on the 2021 draft, which saw the Jays have two top 100 picks.

The Blue Jays lost their second rounder and some international money due to the signing of George Springer. While this was absolutely worth it, this article may be shorter than the rest in this series.

Due to this article only having two players featured, I included a fourth player in yesterday’s article who the Jays took 106th overall. The link for all previous articles can be found at the bottom of this article.

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Gunnar Hoglund:

This section of the article was actually written all the way in early March, as Gunnar Hoglund was going to rank as one of my Top 20 prospects. Unfortunately for me, he was traded ten days after I wrote this, so it’s been sitting on the backburner. I think I’ve finally found a use for it, as Hoglund has yet to return.

Pitching for Ole’ Miss in 2021, Hoglund pitched 62.2 innings and posted a 2.87 ERA with a K/9 of 13.8. However, his BB/9 increased to a high of 2.4 (which isn’t very high.) In mid May 2021, the then 21-year-old suffered a tear in his UCL, resulting in Tommy John surgery. 

Prior to the injury, Hoglund was projected to be chosen top 10; however, due to the injury, he was chosen by the Jays with the 19th overall pick.Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the first time the Blue Jays selected a pitcher who recently had Tommy John surgery, as they selected Jeff Hoffman with the 9th overall pick in 2014. 

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Hoglund, along with Kevin Smith, Zach Logue and Kirby Snead were traded for Matt Chapman back on March 16th, ten days after this article was written. Unlike those three players, Hoglund hasn’t played a game in 2022, but he is expected to pitch before the end of the summer.

In his junior year, prior to Tommy John, Hoglund’s fastball velocity rose to 92-95 mph, up about three mph. He also had a hard, tight slider that averages at 84-86. He also features a low 80s changeup and a curveball that is rarely featured.

Per Fangraphs, he was the most polished arm chosen in the 2021 draft, in part due to his fantastic control. All sites mention the fact that his delivery is clean and repeatable, with MLB Pipeline going as far as saying that his floor is to be a back-end starter. Below are his grades.

Pitch MLB Pipeline Baseball America Fangraphs PV (FV)
Fastball 55 70 50
Curveball 50 N/A N/A
Slider 55 55 60
Changeup 55 55 40 (50)
Control 60 70 35 (70)
Overall 50 55 45

Here’s his slider:

 

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With the return of Hoglund, the Athletics’ will have a high ceiling, high floor pitching prospect. It’s to be seen whether or not this trade will bite the Jays in the ass, but that all depends on how well Hoglund does in his career.

Ricky Tiedemann:

Dating back to my pre-season Top 20, I actually wasn’t going to include Hoglund or Tiedemann, but I’m glad I did, especially for the latter..

Unlike Gunnar Hoglund, you probably know a ton about Ricky Tiedemann if you know anything about Jays prospects. The 19-year-old was the inspiration for this article due to his meteoric rise on prospect lists everywhere.

The 19-year-old lefty started his professional career in A ball with the Dunedin Blue Jays. In 30 innings pitched, he posted an incredibly low ERA of 1.80 and FIP of 2.04. This was due to his high K/9 of 14.70!, but he did struggle with walks a little bit, as his BB/9 sat at 3.90.

After Adam Kloffenstein and Trent Palmer were called up to Double A, Tiedemann was called up to High A. Keep in mind, he’s only 19-years-old, which is over four years younger than the average pitcher.

In his first month, Tiedemann was lights out. In 23.2 innings, the young lefty posted an ERA of 0.38 and a FIP of 1.49. His K/9 slightly decreased to 13.31, while he actually improved hiscommand quite a lot, with a BB/9 of 1.90. For context, he struck out 38.9% of batters, while only walking 5.6% of them.

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However, in his last three starts (or 14 innings), the 19-year-old has hit a little bit of a road bump, as his ERA in those three starts sits at 5.79, while his FIP sits at 4.72. Teams have also been able to draw more walks, as his BB/9 in those three starts sits at 4.50. While he’s still having success striking out batters, his K/9 dropped to 12.21.

Prior to these three starts, it was looking ever more likely that he’d be following Palmer and Kloffenstein. However, after seeing this, I think it’s best to not rush his development and let him continue to dominate High A.

This doesn’t mean we should give up on Ricky Tiedemann, because in reality, adversity will help him grow his game. Despite hitting a rough stretch, there’s still some good in these games. For example, when he faced Spokane, he gave up three runs in the first inning, but kept the team off the board the rest of his outing.

Hell, even in his worst start against the Everett AquaSox, he allowed his first homer off big leaguer Kyle Lewis and his second homer off the #20 ranked prospect, Noelvi Marte.

Tiedemann still has a high ceiling, which is reflective in his grades.

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Pitch MLB Pipeline Fangraphs (Future Value/ Present Value
Fastball 60 45/50
Slider: 55 50/55
Changeup 55 50/55
Control 50 20/55
Overall 55 45

It’s also of note that Fangraphs haven’t had their mid-season update, meaning after the draft, these grades would look similar to MLB Pipeline’s. Furthermore, Baseball America gives Ricky Tiedemann an overall grade of 60, and that’s without a midseason upgrade.

With all that being said, Tiedemann has the ceiling of an ace for the Blue Jays. Not bad for a 91st overall pick.

What to make of the 2021 draft:

It’s obviously way too early to tell how these two pitchers’ careers will turn out. Hoglund has a high floor and a ceiling of a number two in the rotation. It all depends if he can return to his pre-Tommy John form.

Tiedemann on the other hand, man, I think the sky’s the limit for the kid. Let’s use another highly touted junior college prospect, Nate Pearson. I think it’s safe to say that Pearson was the most hyped prospect of the past decade.

Despite this, he only made his High A start in 2018 when he was 21-years-old. Tiedemann won’t turn 20 until mid-August. The sky’s the limit for the young lefty, but there’s no need to rush if he’s not dominating.

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Previously in the series…

The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2016

The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2017

The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2018

The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2019

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The Mark Shapiro Era Draft Retrospective: 2020 

Editors note:

I’d like to thank everyone for reading this series of articles. Originally, I was going to write just one article and try to fit all 19 players in it, but this ended up taking at least 10 hours of my time over about four days.

There should be more pre-draft content, including two more “Who Could the Blue Jays select” articles. I’ll also have a few more “Meet the Sellers” articles, with about eight more planned. I’ll soon be resuming the Prospect Profile series, where I go in depth with prospects.

This doesn’t even include opinions on rumours, post draft articles, the re-ranking of my top 20 prospect list and stand alone articles.

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It’s going to be a big month at Blue Jays Nation, and I hope you continue reading because it means the world to me.

I’ll finish this series by saying this: As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. I’ve been posting clips of minor leaguers, and I’ve found my Twitter niche. So if you enjoy the prospect content, come join me.