The Michigan Baseball program has experienced a breakout of sorts over the last number of seasons under the guiding hand of manager Erik Bakich. The 2021 MLB Draft was another feather in the cap for a program that has developed talent at an impressive rate.
Michigan had three players selected in this draft cycle, headlined by lefty ace pitcher Steven Hajjar coming off the board in the second round to the Minnesota Twins. His selection made the Wolverines one of seven collegiate programs to have at least one player selected in the first round two rounds of the last three drafts.
From the research desk: Michigan is 1⃣ of just 7⃣ collegiate programs to have at least 1⃣ player selected in the first 2⃣ rounds in each of the last 3⃣ drafts#GoBlue ➡️ #ProBlue pic.twitter.com/oN9DEgdyD0— Michigan Baseball (@umichbaseball) July 12, 2021
As Zach Shaw of The Michigan Insider points out, Hajjar also became the fourth Wolverine pitcher to be selected in the second round of the last three drafts. He joins Karl Kauffman, Tommy Henry and Jeff Criswell with that distinction. The development of those players in a Michigan uniform is a major reason why Chris Fetter is the pitching coach of the Detroit Tigers now.
Henry, Kauffmann, Criswell, and now… @StevenHajjar! Congrats, Hajjjaaahhh and forever, Go Blue!— Chris Fetter (@ChrisFetter41) July 13, 2021
Below is a bit more on each player’s selection.
Left-handed pitcher Steven Hajjar — Round 2, Pick No. 61 overall to the Minnesota Twins
Michigan's Steven Hajjar @StevenHajjar led the B1G in strikeouts this season (110) against just 66 hits in 81.2 innings. Congrats, @Twins on a great pick!#GoBlue 〽️ ➡️ #ProBlue pic.twitter.com/oPzccomGCK— Michigan Baseball (@umichbaseball) July 12, 2021
Our Texas Rangers affiliate, Lonestar Ball, previewed Hajjar earlier in the draft process.
Hajjar is a little on the young side for a college draftee — he doesn’t turn 21 until August — and part of the appeal of Hajjar is that there is projectability with him. Reports have him both in the low 90s and at 88-91, though he has thrown harder before and has apparently topped out at 95 mph. BA describes the fastball as having a “low spin profile,” though it still gets decent grades, and if he increases his velocity as a pro it would grade that much better.
Hajjar’s best pitch is his changeup, which BA puts a 55 on and MLB Pipeline gives a 60. He throws both a curveball and a slider, though neither of them is a really strong pitch at this point. He has a delivery MLB Pipeline describes as “deceptive,” and he’s got the athleticism to allow him to repeat the delivery, though there are mixed reports on his command and control.
Twins take Michigan’s Steve Hajjar, big lefty with athleticism and stuff. FB with big ride and overall movement, pitched at 88-92 mph this spring but has thrown harder, above-average change, SL has been good in the past. #PGDraft— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) July 12, 2021
Shortstop Benjamin Sems — Round 15, Pick No. 440 overall to the Colorado Rockies
Michigan's Benjamin Sems @benjer6 was selected by the Colorado @Rockies in the 1⃣5⃣th Round of the MLB Draft. They get a star defensive shortstop who also batted .314 and ranked among the team leaders in extra base hits and RBI. #GoBlue 〽️ ➡️ #ProBlue pic.twitter.com/uUFAGLnu42— Michigan Baseball (@umichbaseball) July 13, 2021