If these Detroit Tigers draft picks reach their potential.
If they stay healthy.
If nothing goes horribly wrong.
The Tigers crushed this draft.
Granted, I’ve preceded that statement with several if’s and a layer of uncertainty. But the MLB draft is all about potential; and if you view the Tigers’ draft through the potential lens, I love this draft class because the Tigers took so many players with such high ceilings.
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So here are 10 thoughts and predictions about this draft class:
1. Ace of the future
First bold prediction: Jackson Jobe, the Tigers first-round pick, will become the ace of the staff if he stays healthy and reaches his potential. Yes, I realize the Tigers have a ton of outstanding, young arms right now, including Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal. Don’t forget Spencer Turnbull, Joey Wentz, Matt Manning and Alex Faedo. But from everything I’m learning, Jobe could be All-Star good. I know he is only 18 and things can go wrong with high school arms. But his potential is crazy.
2. Not a quick fix
It’s clear the Tigers believe that Jobe’s potential is higher than the high school shortstops who were available.
Only time will tell if they were right. But this is a reminder the Tigers won’t solve all of their problems through the draft. They still have a glaring organizational need for a shortstop. That means owner Chris Ilitch has to open up his checkbook, follow the lead of his late father and start throwing cash around. This organization won’t advance from to contender until Ilitch starts to sign some high-end free agents to plug the holes.
3. Boom! What a pick!
Second bold prediction: Ty Madden will be the steal of the draft for the Tigers. Some considered Madden a top-10 talent. But he slipped and the Tigers took him in the compensation round at No. 32.
“We really liked him,” Scott Pleis, the Tigers scouting director, said. “I was surprised he slid as far as he did. But there’s always somebody that does that. When we got (catcher Dillon) Dingler, we didn’t think he was gonna get to us either. So he’s kind of our Dingler this year, where we didn’t think he was going to be there. And he was, so it was a nice surprise.”
4. Diamond in the rough
Wait a second. Did he just say Madden is the Dingler of this draft? That’s a huge statement. Dingler has turned into a foundation piece in this rebuild — somebody who looks like he will be the long-term answer at catcher. He has already climbed to Double-A Erie. And if Madden can climb to Erie next summer, this year’s “Dingler” is a heck of a player.
MORE FROM SEIDEL: Why Dillon Dingler’s fanbase shows he’s one to build around
5. Armed and ready
The Tigers didn’t take a single pitcher in the five-round 2020 draft.
So they drafted 12 pitchers this year — the most since they took 12 in the first 20 rounds in 2015. This year, the Tigers drafted righties — OK, a ton of righties — and they got lefties. They got short pitchers and they got a massive pitcher.
Most will start out slated as starters.
“With the risk of injury and things happen, you can never have enough pitching,” Pleis said. “We really restocked there, so we should be fine for a while.”
6. Size does matter
The Tigers went big in this draft. I’m talking massive. They took Charleston Southern’s R.J. Petit, a 6-foot-8 and 300-pound right-handed pitcher in the 14th round.
“Big, physical guy,” Pleis said. “We have some history on him. One of our area guys knows him from Charleston so we had a little inside track on him, so we’ve known about him for a while and we’ve liked what we saw, so it was nice to get him.”
7. OK, size doesn’t matter
The Tigers also went small, drafting Aaron Haase, a 5-foot-8 pitcher from Wichita State.
“Aaron can pitch,” Pleis said. “We like the make up. We’ve got a little insight there too as you probably know.”
There appears to be no relation to catcher Eric Haase.
But David Chadd, the Tigers assistant GM, is a longtime Wichitan.
8. These unprecedented times
This was a surprising draft, right from the start, when Louisville catcher Henry Davis was taken first overall by the Pirates.
And the surprises kept coming.
“It was a very strange draft, really,” Pleis said.
In most years, the Tigers’ draft board is pretty close to how players are picked, according to Pleis.
“This one kind of jumped all over the place,” Pleis said
Maybe, it’s because COVID-19 made it so difficult to scout these players and make a draft board.
And, maybe, the Tigers found some gems in later rounds because of it.
9. When do I start?
With this draft being held later in the summer, it’s going to affect where these players start.
“Everything’s a little different,” Pleis said. “These high school kids finished two months ago.”
Assuming the Tigers sign Jobe, it will be interesting to see if he’s shut down until instructional ball in the fall.
10. The future is bright
I’m not the only one who thinks the Tigers nailed this draft.
Jon Heyman, an insider at MLB Network, sent out a Tweet on Tuesday morning, stating that the Tigers had the second-best draft class after the first 10 picks.
Add in Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson playing in the Futures Game on Sunday, and it was an encouraging few days for the Tigers.
Contact Jeff Seidel: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel.