Tigers' top draft pick Jackson Jobe ready to get to work
His bank account was officially fattened Friday by $6.9 million, which agent Scott Boras and the Tigers settled upon 12 days after Jackson Jobe had been drafted by Detroit.
Thus, Jobe, officially, was an 18-year-old professional baseball player when he appeared late Friday afternoon, wearing a lavender golf shirt during a Zoom interview with Detroit media.
“I’m here right now,” he said, speaking from Lakeland, Florida, and the TigerTown complex where he’ll be stationed for the next two months. “I landed Monday (flight from Oklahoma City). I’ve been able to meet everybody, see what everything’s like.”
He’ll discover beginning Saturday what it’s like to suit up in a Detroit uniform and throw pitches as a Tigers employee. Just when he might throw one of those pitches in a minor-league game has yet to be decided.
“If my arm’s ready to go and everything’s ready to go, I would love to,” said a 6-foot-2, 190-pound, right-handed pitcher, who the Tigers believed had the best long-term profile of any player they considered before snagging him with the 2021 MLB Draft’s third overall turn.
“But, honestly, I’m not going to push myself too far this early in my career. But I would love to go out there and face some batters.”
The Tigers are evaluating matters there. Jobe has not thrown a game-pitch since May 14 when his senior season at Heritage Hall High wrapped up.
They’ll be neuro-surgically careful in handling their first-round prize. The Tigers already have said they’ll discuss among the front office, coaches, managers, doctors, and training staff what Jobe can and should do during his opening weeks and months in Lakeland.
But neither have they ruled out game appearances after Jobe threw 51.2 innings this spring at Heritage Hall. It’s possible Jobe could throw in a Florida Complex League game, given that the Tigers have East and West teams competing in a league that generally features a team’s youngest prospects.
It’s also possible, if it’s deemed beneficial, that Jobe could hop across TigerTown’s tract and suit up for a low-Single A game with the Flying Tigers.
The Tigers will take their time and let Jobe’s body, arm, and adjustment dictate strategies.
In the meantime, he’s already heard from a few of his young brethren: top prospects Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson, as well as Matthew Boyd, the Tigers’ rotation tribal chief, who is rehabbing at Lakeland.
Boyd has texted good wishes, Jobe said, and invited the Tigers’ newest celebrity draft pick to join him for lunch next week.
“It’s been cool to hear from them,” Jobe said, knowing that Saturday, in Florida’s heat, a new life and career will formally begin for a man only 18.
Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and former Detroit News sports reporter.