Blue Jays Nation’s 2023 Preseason Top 50: #17 Hayden Juenger
Photo credit:Kristin Basnett/MiLB.com
8 months ago
Hey, look at that! We have our first ranked pitcher since #25 Jimmy Robbins.
We’ll be looking at Hayden Juenger in this article, one of the pitching prospects the Blue Jays pushed aggressively in only his second pro season.
However, he’s the scouting criteria.
Instead of writing this out every time I did for the mid-season Top 60, I’ll copy and paste my criteria for how I rank and scout these players.
There are many factors that determine a top prospect. The eye test is the biggest driver in determining a top prospect, but proximity to the majors, ceiling, and floor is also important. Moreover, statistics are another key ingredient, as everything works together to give you numbers.
As for the grades, it’s important to remember that these grades are relative to the league in which they play at. A kid from Dunedin is not going to have a 50-grade hit tool if he were placed in the big leagues. But relative to the league in which he plays, a .300 hitter is eligible to have that grade.
For these prospects, I’ll be reviewing their background, numbers in the minors, pitch mix (if they’re a pitcher), and giving a scouting report (if feasible, rookie league guys are difficult).
Let’s jump in!
Hayden Juenger’s career so far:
The 22-year-old right-handed pitcher was selected in the sixth round of the draft in 2021, and has been aggressively pushed through the minors.
He started his career with the High-A Vancouver Canadians in 2021, posting a 2.70 ERA and a 1.33 FIP in 20 innings pitched. He had an incredible 45.9 K% and a 5.9 BB% for a K-BB% of 40.5% He pitched in relief, appearing in 11 games with the Vancouver Canadians.
The Jays were super aggressive with Juenger in the 2022 season, starting the then-21-year-old in Double-A New Hampshire. There he posted a 4.02 ERA and a 5.04 FIP, with a 29.5 K% and a 9.3 BB% in 56 innings pitched. Interestingly, he appeared in 20 games and started 17 of them, but never pitched more than 4 innings in a game.
Juenger was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo in late July when he was still 21 years old. There he posted a 3.31 ERA and a 5.34 FIP in 32.2 innings pitched. His K% dropped to 24.6%, while his BB% increased to 11.9%. Moreover, he only “started two of the 18 games he appeared in, but never pitched more than 2.1 innings in a game.
Hayden Juenger’s stuff:
Juenger throws a mid-90s fastball, usually sitting in the 94-95 mph region, but reaching as high as 98 mph. He also features a changeup that sits 85-87 mph and a slider that sits 83-85 mph with a sweeping motion.
Compact frame with muscular legs, a slim upper half, and broad shoulders, Juenger has a large circle arm action and a 3/4 slot, giving him an odd release point for batters. His fastball is his best pitch, as he can use it anywhere in the zone with additional movement. His slider has some sweep to it and is a useful weapon against right-handed batters. His changeup has arm-side fade, which makes it run away from left-handed batters. He loses control at points, and when he misses his spot, he is susceptible to the long ball.
Where he’ll start in 2023:
Like with all Triple-A prospects, Juenger will start the 2023 season with the Buffalo Bisons. It’s to be seen whether or not the Jays ever plan to use him as a starter or to continue to use him in a bulk role as they did when he was in Buffalo. To reach the next level, command and control is important for Juenger, as if he can hit his spots consistently, it’ll mitigate the home runs, while also generating more strikeouts.
There’s a chance that he will be promoted to the Blue Jays at some point in 2023.
A hint about the prospect on Sunday morning: We’ve covered this next prospect extensively since the end of the season, and he could be one of the quickest risers in the organization. So stay tuned!
In case you missed it:
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