1. Gunnar Hoglund, RHP, Ole Miss
Would the Yankees really select a potential top-10 pick in Gunnar Hoglund at No. 20, considering he just had Tommy John surgery in May?
Well … they did it with Clarke Schmidt in 2016. But that was when they thought they had a roster at the bottom of the pile, 2-3 years away from any form of contention. The 2017 Yankees busted the door down early, and then suddenly the pick seemed a little wackier, and still hasn’t exactly paid off except for in hype and hope.
The 6-2, 220-pound Hoglund might sound familiar to draft heads considering the Pirates took him with the 36th pick out of high school — and everyone knows other teams usually do well with pitchers after they leave the Buccos. Kidding.
Hoglund’s a powerful strikeout specialist who racked up 96 in 62.2 innings pitched this season before his poorly-timed injury. After all, this was the first collegiate season in which he’d really found it for an extended period. His freshman year was a wash, featuring a 5.29 ERA and just 53 Ks in 68 innings pitched. He started off his sophomore campaign in elite fashion, with a 1.16 ERA and 37 whiffs in 23.1 innings pitched. That’s where it ended, though, thanks to the famous pandemic.
And then there was 2021, an exceptional pre-draft year that had him rocketing to the top of the first round, only for injury to befall him just before the finish line. Would the Yankees really dare do this again for the second time in a half-decade? If they don’t, one of their neighbors in the draft order almost certainly will. How much do the Bombers believe in the talent?