Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro - USA Today
Blue Jays 40-man Roster Review: Hagen Danner is a relief prospect who could contribute to Toronto’s bullpen in 2024
2 months ago
Hagen Danner could be the best relief prospect in the Blue Jays organization.
This is the 40-man Roster Review, in which we’re going to take a look back at each player on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster, and how they performed in 2023, as well as their outlook for 2024.
The 25-year-old right-handed flamethrower was selected in the second-round of the 2016 draft, but as a catcher. He actually spent three seasons as a position player in the organization (hitting 14 home runs!) before transitioning to a pitcher.
Danner’s talent was immediately apparent, as he had a 2.02 ERA and a 3.61 FIP in 35.2 innings pitched in High-A in 2021, despite not pitching since high school. What’s more is that he had a high 29.4 K% and only an 8.4 BB%, showcasing great command and control.
Unfortunately, he only pitched 3.2 innings at the start of the 2022 before an injury ruled him out for the rest of the minor league season. Danner did eventually return to action in the Arizona Fall League, where he had a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 innings pitched, along with a 28.6 K% and a 3.6 BB%, with all three earned runs coming in his first game, before pitching seven scoreless games.
Danner started the season in Double-A briefly, but mainly pitched with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Altogether, he had a 3.66 ERA and a 4.15 FIP in 39.1 innings pitched, along with a 35.7 K% and a 7 BB% for a 28.7 K-BB%, the fourth-highest total for any pitcher in the organization with 30 innings or more pitched.
One problem area for Danner in 2023 was the sheer volume of home runs given up when pitching with the Buffalo Bisons. In his debut season with Vancouver in 2021, he only gave up two homers which were the only two he gave up at any level until his tenure in Buffalo. With the Bisons, he gave up eight homers in just 28.1 innings pitched, which is a HR/9 of 2.54. One has to assume that this was a fluke and it will drop with a larger sample size.
The 25-year-old was called up to the Blue Jays in August, but only pitched a third of an inning before being pulled from the game due to injury. Danner did not pitch again in 2023.
Danner has a three-pitch mix, a fastball that sits 96.5 mph and has touched around 99 mph. His strikeout pitch is his mid-80s slider that had a 36.6 whiff % in Buffalo, as well as a hard curveball that sat in the high-70s and had a 35.7 whiff %. Danner has high-leverage reliever potential written all over him, but the key is to stay healthy.
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