It is getting close, very close, the June 4 baseball draft that is now showing signs of solidifying in terms of players and teams that figure to take specific talents in specific slots.
A look then at this week’s talent showcase as The Detroit News again wades into its Top Ten Draft Watch. The Tigers are picking first overall.
1. Casey Mize, RH starter, Auburn, 6-3, 220: He had a Casey Mize special during last week’s start against one of college baseball’s blueblood crews, Vanderbilt. Mize struck out 15 in nine innings, didn’t walk a soul, and allowed all of four hits. The only thing that will keep the Tigers from taking him first overall on June 4 is something medically related. Thus far, no trouble. Last week: 1.
2. Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech, 6-3, 225: The Giants once went big on a catcher named Buster Posey and never for a moment said they were sorry. They aren’t looking at a Posey clone in Bart, but he is very good, indeed, and could well be on his way to San Francisco with that second overall pick. Last week: 4.
3. Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State, 6-5, 220: The Tigers brass got another long look last weekend at Bohm and probably haven’t altered thoughts. They like him, but not in place of Mize at first overall. Bohm will go early, all because his bat and position, while not Kris Bryant-level, look like premium big-league stock. Last week: 2.
4. Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State, 5-8, 165: He looks as if he will be one of those persistent Tigers pains in the neck, all because this guy can hit, and because he could well be White Sox-bound with that fourth selection. He lacks power to make him a one-one, as they like to call the draft’s very first pick, but he’s a quality hitter who will be in the big leagues in a hurry. Last week: 3.
5. Brady Singer, RH starter, University of Florida, 6-5, 210: Singer, as most draft-hounds know, stepped into 2018 as the anointed No. 1 amateur talent in the land. He dipped more than a few notches early in the schedule but has reclaimed some of that old sass. He’ll make someone a very nice rotation piece, perhaps the Reds, who choose fifth. Last week: 10.
6. Logan Gilbert, RH starter, Stetson University, 6-6, 210: Granted, it was against Jacksonville, not one of those SEC monsters that more accurately tests a pitcher’s pluses. But in last week’s showdown, Gilbert pitched eight innings, grudgingly donated a single hit, struck out 12, and walked two. He is big, quite refined, and he likely will please his new big-league team. Last week: 7.
7. Matt Liberatore, LH starter, Mountain Ridge High, Glendale, Ariz., 6-5, 200: It’s hard to say what might happen with Liberatore a bit more than three weeks before the draft selectors convene. He could rise a notch or two. Or he could tumble. This is what can happen when you’re a prep pitcher. There’s lot of mistrust out there, although Liberatore has the potential to overwhelm it. Last week: 6.
8. Nolan Gorman, 3B, Sandra Day O’Connor High, Glendalez, Ariz., 6-1, 210: When you have Gorman’s power, someone’s going to bite, even if that club sees you some day as a first baseman rather than at the opposite corner. Last week: 8.
9. Jackson Kowar, RH starter, University of Florida, 6-6, 195: He confined Texas A&M to a single hit in last weekend’s start, which says plenty about Kowar. The Tigers liked him a bunch three years ago when they drafted him and couldn’t pry him from his Gators commitment. They wouldn’t mind adding him this year – if he fell to their next draft slot, 44th, which isn’t happening. Kowar’s going in the first round. Last week: Unranked.
10. Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West High, 6-1, 195: He’s the X-factor in this draft. The Tigers would love the latitude to gamble on him but don’t believe they can when a far surer talent sits there in Mize. If he played in the South or in California and showed against high-powered pitching what he unveils against inferior stuff, he would be everyone’s one-one. But for now, too few seem convinced. Last week: Unranked.
Dropped out: Connor Scott, outfielder, Plant High, Tampa, Fla. Shane McClanahan, left-handed starter, University of South Florida.