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It was an opportunity they couldn't pass up.

With the 19th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Ole Miss starting pitcher Gunnar Hoglund, an arm they thought wouldn't fall to them just a few months ago.

"We feel like this is a very opportunist pick for us as an organization," Toronto director of amateur scouting Shane Farrell said. "Knowing the trend he was going on.”

In his 2021 season, Hoglund posted a 2.87 ERA in 11 starts. In 62.2 innings pitched, the 21-year-old struck out 13.8 per-nine and walked just 17 batters. He missed the back half of his 2021 season due to an elbow injury, which required Tommy John surgery in May. Given the standard one year rehab time for the UCL surgery, Hoglund could be back pitching for a Blue Jays affiliate in the opening months of the 2022 minor league season.

"Everything has been positive post operation," Farrell said. 

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The latest CBS mock draft had Hoglund going 18th to the St. Louis Cardinals, but mocks prior to the injury had him as high as a borderline top-10 pick.

Toronto's newest prospect features a 92-95 mph fastball with a slider and changeup. Though his slider is considered a plus weapon, he feasted in college with dominant control, striking out over five times as many batters as he walked. 

“We were drawn to the completeness of the package," Farrell said. "A strong physical kid with above average control of his fastball and slider.”

Hoglund becomes the fourth 19th overall selection in franchise history. Toronto selected SS Eddie Zosky in the 1989 draft at 19 and OF Shannon Stewart in the first round of the 1992 draft. Most recently, the Blue Jays selected high school outfielder Álex Ríos from Puerto Rico at 19 in the 1999 selection show.

The Blue Jays will begin negotiations with Hoglund shortly after the draft. Toronto’s 2021 first round pick comes with a slot value of $3,359,000, but the organization may sign him above or below that number, or potentially not sign him at all. Hoglund was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2018 MLB Draft, but failed to come to terms with the team in part due to "differing views of post-Draft physicals," per Jim Callis, insead honoring his commitment to Ole Miss.

Toronto’s next pick will come in the third round, as the team lost their second-round selection as compensation for signing free agent OF George Springer. The rest of the draft resumes tomorrow, Monday, July 11th, at noon EST.