Pacheco, 18, was chosen No. 39 overall. He is the third player drafted by the Tigers, following Heritage Hall High School right-handed pitcher Jackson Jobe (No. 3 overall) and Texas right-handed pitcher Ty Madden (No. 32 overall).
The Tigers have nine picks Monday in Rounds 2-10; Rounds 11-20 are Tuesday.
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Pacheco is a left-handed hitter at 6 feet 4 and 225 pounds. Evaluators compare him to Winder-Barrow High School (Georgia) shortstop Brady House, who the Tigers were linked to before taking Jobe in the first round. Pacheco plays shortstop and has raw power but is likely to shift to third base as a professional. (Scouts evaluated House the same way, except Pacheco doesn’t have as much upside as an all-around player.) The thought of moving Pacheco to third base doesn’t mean his defense is poor. Rather, he is already outgrowing the shortstop position. If he continues to grow, however, don’t count out the corner outfield spots or first base. He is committed to Texas A&M.
Why it makes sense
The Tigers need all the infield depth they can get. In last year’s draft, they picked Arizona State first/third baseman Spencer Torkelson (No. 1 overall), Rice shortstop Trei Cruz (Round 3), Arizona State shortstop Gage Workman (Round 4) and prep third baseman Colt Keith (Round 5). By selecting Pacheco, they’re adding potential options. Although Pacheco doesn’t have the same upside as House, who went No. 11 overall to the Washington Nationals, he profiles as the power-hitter the Tigers want in the lineup alongside Torkelson, outfielder Riley Greene and catcher Dillon Dingler. Pacheco has some of the best left-handed power in the draft due to his strength and bat speed.
Why it’s a risk
The glaring hole for the Tigers as they attempt to escape the rebuild is the shortstop position. They don’t have a shortstop of the future, and Pacheco might not be the long-term answer. Evaluators are already talking about his size and power requiring a move to left field, right field, third base or first base — and that doesn’t help the Tigers at shortstop. Besides the shortstop dilemma, which could be solved with a free agent signing this winter, Pacheco’s power makes him vulnerable to chasing pitches outside of the strike zone. The swing-and-miss hurts his overall approach and leads to strikeouts. Considering his value is found within his offense, it will be fascinating to watch how he controls the strike zone against pitchers in the minor leagues. But the Tigers believe they found a slugger with the possible upside of a complete hitter in the second round.
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.