The Detroit Tigers selected Heritage Hall High School (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) pitcher Jackson Jobe with the No. 3 overall pick in Sunday night’s 2021 MLB draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates took Louisville catcher Henry Davis with the first pick and the Texas Rangers followed by adding Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter.
Here’s how Jobe fits into the Tigers’ future:
There wasn’t a consensus No. 1 overall pick this year, so the Tigers weren’t entirely sure which players would be available once the Pirates and Rangers made their picks. Jobe is considered the best pitcher to take if you’re searching for upside. The Tigers felt comfortable betting on a high risk, high reward player, so this pick made a lot of sense for them. As a senior, Jobe pitched two no-hitters, led Heritage Hall to a state championship and logged a 0.14 ERA, five walks and 122 strikeouts over 52⅓ innings. The right-hander is best known for his wipeout slider but can reach 99 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also throws a changeup and a curveball.
Why it makes sense
If Jobe throws strikes, he could speed through the minor leagues. He has the arsenal to accomplish what Dylan Bundy — an Oklahoma prep pitcher selected No. 4 overall by the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 — accomplished as a first-year professional in 2012: Over the course of 23 games that year, Bundy went from Low-A to MLB as a 19-year-old. Turns out, Jobe turns 19 later this month. That’s not to say he will pitch in Detroit in 2022, but the comparison to Bundy shows his maturity on the mound. The current rotation features rookies Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. Why not get someone to follow suit? That someone is Jobe. His pitches — a 96 mph fastball, wipeout slider , a solid changeup and a curveball — fit the package of a future frontline starter. He will have a lot of learning to do, but Jobe’s resume is crisp.
Why it’s a risk
As much as things could go right, they could also go quite wrong. High school pitchers are always risky picks. Injury concerns with high schoolers who throw hard are inevitable. (Bundy had Tommy John surgery in 2013.) And professional ball is nothing like the high school level. Some young pitchers move quickly, others stumble out of the gate. It will be interesting to watch how Jobe adjusts to the minor leagues. Also, Jobe won’t necessarily help the rebuild right away. Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker and Louisville’s Henry Davis would have been safer picks, considering they should get to the big leagues before Jobe. Maybe the Tigers should have thought more about immediate help. Or this is part of a long-term plan for winning.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.