Detroit – Three of the Tigers’ six draft picks are in the fold.
On Thursday, the Tigers agreed to terms with Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler, the first pick in the second round, 38th overall. According MLB Network, Dingler signed for full slot value ($1.952 million).
Dingler, who draft experts felt was the second-best catcher in the draft, becomes the highest-drafted catcher the Tigers have drafted since James McCann in the second round in 2011. And as good as McCann proved to be – an All-Star with the White Sox last season – the Tigers believe Dingler is a superior athlete.
“When you see an athlete on the field, it's usually a good thing,” said Scott Pleis, the Tigers director of amateur scouting. “In his case, an athlete behind the plate is huge. We talk about shortstops, center fielders being great athletes, which they are. Your feet and your hands have to be tremendous to be a good catcher.”
Dingler, 21, is 6-2, 215 pounds, and was athletic enough be named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team as a center fielder. He was the Buckeyes' starting catcher the past two seasons.
Like McCann, he possesses elite-level arm strength. The Tigers also liked that his offensive game improved steadily in his two-plus years in Columbus. His batting average increased from .244 to .291 between his freshman and sophomore seasons. He was 10-for-21 with five homers in his coronavirus-shortened junior season.
“I've made tremendous strides from my freshman year,” Dingler said. “I feel like the things I was working on for three years just started to click."
It's set up to be a pretty good catching battle down the road between incumbent "catcher of the future" Jake Rogers, Dingler and possibly Cooper Johnson, whom the Tigers drafted in the sixth round last year.
Still unsigned are the Tigers first overall pick Spencer Torkelson, second-round compensation B pick Daniel Cabrera and fourth-round pick Gage Workman.