With the 36th overall pick in the 2018 MLB amateur draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed prep pitcher Gunnar Hoglund.
Hoglund is a 6’4″, 210 pound, 18-year-old from Florida, who has a commitment to Mississippi. He made great strides this season, rising up the draft boards late with an impressive spring. He was not rated near this spot by MLB Pipeline or Baseball America, who had him #66 and #84 respectively, though they both acknowledged that his draft stock saw a late bump.
Hoglund was a two-sport start in high school, also excelling in basketball. He was a strong hitter as well, so you’re talking about a very athletic kid on the mound. Once he concentrates on just pitching, we could see even more progress than he made late in the year. He’s given a 50 grade for control by Pipeline, but he also posted a 105:2 SO/BB ratio in his senior year, so he’s a strike-thrower. Baseball America has him at a 60 grade for control, which makes more sense, yet is rare for a prep pitcher.
His fastball is his best pitch, grading out at a 60 due to hitting 96 MPH, and consistently sitting in the 90-95 range according to Baseball America. Pipeline notes that he has ease in his delivery and some deception, which makes his current stuff play up. The fact that he’s got the big frame that can still fill out some, plus he hasn’t been concentrating on pitching, means that he should be able to see more velocity in his future.
The curveball needs work and he changeup is a clear third pitch that he doesn’t use often. Those are pitches that will come along as he gets more time on the mound and the Pirates have to feel there is potential with both pitches to draft him this high.
Here’s a video from Baseball America: