After selecting exclusively pitchers in the first five rounds of the 2021 MLB Draft (with four picks), the Toronto Blue Jays kept going after pitching as they made their sixth-round selection, going with righty Hayden Juenger of Missouri State.
Juenger only threw 21 innings over 16 games and his fastball was tracked between 94-98 mph to go with what scouts are calling an average slider and changeup. Juenger had a 3.86 ERA and allowed 21 hits and six walks over 21 innings, striking out 31, but it was noted that the reliever gave up five of his nine earned runs in the first two weeks of the year.
Scouts at MLB.com think that Juenger can be a starter in the pros thanks to his good velocity, fairly clean delivery and his ability to throw strikes as well as having two serviceable offspeed pitches.
The Blue Jays selected high school outfielder Jaden Rudd out of A. Crawford Mosley High School in Florida. The lefthanded hitting outfielder was ranked sixth among Florida outfielders by Perfect Game and showed a 91 mph exit velo. Baseball America reports that Rudd is “better suited to left field than right” and that he has “more baseball skills than raw tools.” With a commitment to Notre Dame, the Jays might need to go above slot for Rudd. Rudd also pitched in high school and tossed 91 mph from the left side although it’s hard to get a sense of whether the Blue Jays will have him focus on hitting. Rudd himself claimed that “I like playing the outfield the best . . I like hitting,” in an interview with WTCA radio in Plymouth, Indiana.
The Blue Jays went with another righthanded pitcher in the eighth round, selecting Hunter Gregory out of Old Dominion in Virginia. The big righty (6-foot-3) is a Virginia native and had a strong year, earning First-TEam All-Conference USA starting pitcher honours. He had a 2.95 ERA and had 19 walks and 88 strikeouts in 79 1/3 innings. It seems (from an article in the Virginian Pilot) that Gregory will sign, saying, “It was a very easy decision.”
Baseball America reports that Gregory pitches in the 90-92 mph range but can hit 95 and has a solid “slider/cutter” that he throws for strikes.
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