Redshirt sophomore left-hander Steven Hajjar was selected by the Minnesota Twins with the 61st overall pick of the 2021 MLB draft on Monday.
Hajjar redshirted his freshman year to rehab a torn ACL sustained while playing pickup basketball. He impressed as the No. 2 starter in a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and entered the 2021 campaign as one of the most hyped left-handed pitchers in college baseball. Before his redshirt sophomore season began, he was named a Preseason All-American by Baseball America, was included on the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Preseason Watch List and was projected as a late first-round pick in the amateur draft. Hajjar was also named the ace of the Michigan baseball team’s pitching staff.
Hajjar lived up to these expectations on the mound. He posted a 4-2 record, a 3.09 ERA and a Big Ten-best 110 strikeouts. All of his 14 starts lasted at least five innings, and seven were quality starts. He was one of the Wolverines’ lone bright spots in their short-lived playoff appearance, throwing six innings and striking out nine against Connecticut.
At the end of the season, Hajjar was named to the all-Big Ten First Team and to the all-South Bend Regional Second Team.
Hajjar continued to impress at the MLB Draft Combine, where he threw a breaking ball with 2,677 revolutions per minute — a higher spin rate than the big-league average breaking ball of about 2,500 rpms — and a 97-mph fastball. But MLB scouts say his best pitch is the changeup, which complements his fastball well.
In the Twins’ system, Hajjar will likely work on improving his command, refining his curveball and gyro slider and adding velocity to the fastball, which hovered in the high-80s for most of the year. After working out of several bases-loaded james and never having a bad start this season, it’s clear that his mental game is already very polished.
If Hajjar can make the necessary improvements and rise through the Twins’ farm system, he could find a spot in the Minnesota starting rotation in a few years as the aging Kenta Maeda, J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda retire. And with intimidating righties Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton as his teammates rather than his adversaries, Hajjar has a clear path to a winning career with the Twins.