Tigers armed and ready for next month's MLB draft
It’s a different draft year for the Tigers, compared at least with some past events, such as last year’s, when they were minus a couple of early picks because of free-agent investments in Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton.
This year, no gaps. No forfeited picks.
The Tigers have the 18th overall spot reserved in their name when the 2017 big-league draft gets rolling at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 12. It will extend for two more days until the last of the amateur selections is called in Round 40.
The Tigers aren’t yet talking about their plans. But a Top 20 list of prospects has reached a point of general consensus.
Factor in the Tigers’ general habit of taking a power-armed pitcher in the first round and percentage wagers can at least be entertained.
What is known about the 2017 draft, to the extent reliable projections can be made, is a certain group of celebrity stars will be grabbed early.
They include hotshot prep pitcher Hunter Greene, a right-hander out of Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, Calif., who looks as if he could go to the Twins with the first overall pick.
Unless, of course, the Twins decide to pick the pockets of the Reds, who with the No. 2 pick are favorites to grab University of Louisville left-handed power slugger Brendan McKay.
Others likely to go well ahead of the Tigers at No. 18:
Royce Lewis (prep shortstop (Capistrano, Calif.); Kyle Wright (Vanderbilt right-hander); Pavin Smith (first baseman, University of Virginia); Jordon Adell, prep outfielder, Louisville, Ky.); Mackenzie Gore (prep left-hander, Whiteville, N.C.); Adam Haseley (outfielder, Virginia); Shane Baz (prep right-hander, Tomball, Texas); Jeren Kendall (outfielder, Vanderbilt); J.B. Bukauskas (right-hander, University of North Carolina), and, perhaps very early, Nick Pratto (prep first baseman, Huntington Beach, Calif.).
The Tigers could always see one of the above slip. But it’s more likely they’ll be choosing from a group of appealing talents, all part of a draft crop considered to be better than average when compared with recent years.
Players to ponder as Commissioner Rob Manfred steps to the lectern June 12, unveiling those first 17 names ahead of Detroit’s turn:
■Alex Faedo, RH pitcher, University of Florida: He already has been picked by scout Frankie Piliere, of D1Baseball.com, as the Tigers’ likely choice. He’s 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, and a nephew of one-time Twins shortstop Lenny Faedo. He has the typical power-pitching arsenal the Tigers tend to favor. And his Southeastern Conference pedigree doesn’t hurt.
■Jake Burger, third baseman, Missouri State: He’s 6-2, 210, bats right-handed, and hits the ball a long way. It’s doubtful Burger will last much past the 20th pick. The Tigers aren’t always keen on taking bats early, but Burger could qualify.
■Griffin Canning, RH pitcher, UCLA: He’s not as big (6-1, 170) as the Tigers tend to consider in first-round pitchers. But his repertoire is so strong, in an advanced college conference, Detroit could bite.
■Logan Warmoth, shortstop, University of North Carolina: Again, consider Detroit’s draft history. The Tigers latched onto Nick Castellanos in 2010 when money concerns under the old draft system caused other teams to back away. They also drafted James McCann (2011) and Christin Stewart (2015) early. But this isn’t an organization that typically takes bats ahead of arms — not 18 picks into a particular year’s draft. Warmoth, however, is 6-foot, 190 pounds, swings right-handed, and is a splendid two-way player. Another of the 2017 prizes that likely won’t get beyond the 20th turn.
■Tanner Houck, RH pitcher, Missouri: Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com already has pegged Houck as the Tigers’ preference here. And a pitcher with Houck’s stuff and stature adds up. He’s 6-5, 215, and – to repeat — gets a boost because of his conference (SEC).
■Trevor Rogers, LH pitcher, Carlsbad, New Mexico: If the Tigers jumped last June at a big prep pitcher (Matt Manning), they can easily go that route again. Rogers, like Manning, is 6-6, and just under 200 pounds. His velocity has reportedly fluctuated a bit this spring, which isn’t reassuring, but those aware of the Tigers’ tastes won’t dismiss Rogers, who is related to one-time Tigers outfielder Cody Ross.
■Clarke Schmidt, RH pitcher, University of South Carolina: Not as statuesque (6-1) as the Tigers generally opt for, and he just had Tommy John surgery. But he’s talented, and, for that reason, the Tigers can’t be discounted. Not when they value pitching upside.
And not when they already have his brother, Clate, a former Clemson pitcher, in their system a year after they drafted Clate in the 20th round.
■Sam Carlson, RH pitcher, Burnsville (Minn.) High: He’s 6-4, 208, and yes, is another who fits the Tigers’ preferred pitching DNA. He’s committed to the University of Florida, but he’s expected to say yes to pro baseball. Likely not there at 18, but it’s early and the board can change significantly in the next 20 days.
■David Peterson, LH pitcher, University of Oregon: When you’re 6-6, 245, and a top-crop Pac-12 starter, the Tigers are likely to ponder Peterson, who could be plucked at 18.
■Blayne Enlow, RH pitcher, St. Amant (La) High: Same story: 6-4, 180, committed to Louisiana State, but can probably be pried to a minor-league camp if he becomes a high enough first-round pick. And he should be.
■D.L. Hall, LH pitcher, Valdosta (Ga.) High: Smaller than the Carlson-Peterson-Enlow troika, but at 6-1, 180, and with his left-handed polish and upside, a reasonable bet to go not only in the first round, but also perhaps well ahead of 18.
The Tigers a year ago were staring at a thin early-rounds draft because of the Zimmermann and Upton signings.
They forfeited their second- and third-round selections, creating a long, possibly costly, interlude between picking Manning ninth overall, and not again until the fourth round when they got Kyle Funkhouser with the 115th overall selection.
The Tigers this year will have three turns in the top 100, beginning with the 18th overall slot, and extending through the second (57th overall) and third rounds (95th).
Top 10 prospects
Here are the top 10 prospects in the 2017 draft according to Baseball America:
1. Hunter Greene, RHP/SS, Notre Dame High, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
2. Brendan McKay, LHP/1B, Louisville
3. Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
4. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville (N.C.) High
5. Royce Lewis, SS/OF, JSerra Catholic High, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
6. JB Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
7. Pavin Smith, 1B, Virginia
8. Jordon Adell. OF, Ballard High, Louisville
9. Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson High, Lexington, N.C.
10. Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida