Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro - USA Today
Blue Jays Nation’s Pre-Season Prospect Countdown – No. 36: Hagen Danner
28 days ago
The streak of position players has ended… well, sort of.
This is Blue Jays Nation’s annual pre-season list, in which I’ll take a look at the top 50 prospects in the organization. We’ll look at the player’s stats, my observations, and other publications’ scouting reports if available.
Let’s take a look at Hagen Danner
Getting to know Hagen Danner…
Position: Relief Pitcher
Born:September 30, 1998
Acquired: 2nd-round, 2017 draft (Blue Jays)
2023 Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Previous Ranking: 26
The 25-year-old’s story is well known at this point. He spent his first three seasons in the organization as a catcher, hitting a combined 16 home runs in 580 plate appearances in the lower minors. In 2020, Danner converted to pitching.
Danner spent his first season pitching with the High-A Vancouver Canadians, where he had a 2.02 ERA and a 3.61 FIP in 35.2 innings pitched, along with a 29.4 K% and an 8.4 BB%. These were incredibly impressive stats for a player who hadn’t pitched since his senior year of high school in 2016.
Prior to the start of the 2022 season, Danner was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft that never happened. Unfortunately for Danner, he missed most of the 2022 season due to injury, as he only pitched 3.2 innings early in the year with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
He returned late in 2022 to represent the Jays in the Arizona Fall League, where he gave up three earned runs in his first game. However, over his next 10 games, he didn’t allow a single run and posted a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 innings pitched, along with a 28.6 K% and a 3.6 BB%, walking just one batter of the 28 he faced.
The 2022 Arizona Fall League was a precursor for what was to come, as Danner pitched fantastic in 2023 while remaining relatively healthy until August. Danner started the year in Double-A New Hampshire, where he had a 3 ERA and a 0.39 FIP in 9 innings pitched, along with a great 43.2 K% and a 5.4 BB%.
Triple-A was still good for Danner, as he had a 3.81 ERA and 5.51 FIP. The strikeout rate of 31.5% was great, and the walk rate was still at a low 6.3%, especially considering he throws gas. The only problem with Danner’s Triple-A stats is that FIP, and that’s due to having a 2.54 HR/9 and a 26.7 HR/FB. The latter is how many fly balls went for home runs, while the former is the home run rate per nine innings.
Thankfully, we have xFIP which is when the HR/FB is normalized. It checks out with his ERA total, as he had a 3.88 xFIP in those 28.1 innings pitched. The Jays thought he was impressive enough to call him up to the big leagues, where Danner only pitched one third of an inning before a season-ending injury.
Still, Danner’s stuff is fantastic. Fangraphs ranks the 25-year-old as their 21st-best Jays prospect, noting that his fastball sits 95-98 mph with a subpar shape. His slider is his best pitch as the vertical downward movement gets a ton of swings and misses. Danner also has a nice looping curveball.
Scott Mitchell ranks Danner as his 37th-best Jays prospect. Unlike Fangraphs who believes Danner could be a middle-inning reliever, Mitchell believes Danner’s stuff is “back-of-the-bullpen material”. Both Fangraphs and Mitchell note that health is key for Danner in 2024 and beyond.
Either way, Danner’s stuff is nasty and if he can stay healthy in 2024, there’s a chance he could make it back to the big leagues and play a role on the 2024 Blue Jays.
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