Pitching depth, which the Tigers privately acknowledged was something they wanted to add in the 2021 MLB Draft, continued to mount Monday when the Tigers took 6-foot-4, 235-pound right-hander Tyler Mattison in the fourth round of the three-day MLB talent sweepstakes.
Mattison pitched for Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. He was a senior year this year and finished the season with a 10-3 record and a 2.46 ERA in 80.1 innings. He struck out 95 and walked 14, thanks mostly to a fastball that runs in the mid-90s and has topped out at 97.
Mattison’s selection made it four pitchers in the Tigers’ first five picks in the 2021 draft.
Earlier in the day, they grabbed Dylan Smith, a 6-2 right-handed starter from the University of Alabama (third round) after starting the day by taking a left-handed, power-hitting high school shortstop, Izaak Pacheco of Friendswood (Texas) High, with their second-round selection.
The Tigers on Sunday took pitchers with their first two turns, getting Jackson Jobe of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as well as University of Texas right-hander Ty Madden.
Mattison is thought by Baseball America scouts to be in serious need of coaching on his secondary repertoire. But his size and right-handed velocity are likely what drew Tigers scouts to a pitcher headed for the deliberate process that is farm-system development.
Smith, the Tigers’ third-round choice, had a 3.84 ERA in 16 starts for Alabama, with 113 strikeouts and 14 walks in 98.1 innings.
He has a fastball that runs in the mid-90s, as well as a full three-pitch secondary package.
Smith, whose hometown is Stafford, Texas, joins Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull as an early round Alabama draft alum. The Tigers took Turnbull in the second round of the 2014 draft.
Smith was ranked as Baseball America’s 56th-best talent in the 2021 crop of prep and college amateurs.
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Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and former Detroit News sports reporter.