A healthy right arm is the top priority for Jackson Jobe. But he wants to pitch as a pro this season.
The No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 MLB draft discussed his future from a hotel room at the Courtyard by Marriott in Lakeland, Florida, where he is stationed with the other draftees near the Detroit Tigers’ spring training facility.
There were a few uncertainties.
“As far as the plan moving forward, we haven’t talked a ton about that,” Jobe said Friday. “I think we’re just kind of taking it day-by-day, and we’ll figure it out as it comes.”
But one thing is certain: Jobe is a Tiger.
The 18-year-old from Heritage Hall High School in Oklahoma City signed with Detroit on Friday for $6.9 million, below the $7,221,200 slot value for the No. 3 pick. He arrived in Lakeland on Monday, will stay there “a couple months” and isn’t sure when he will travel home to Oklahoma.
“I love it here,” Jobe said. “I love everybody with the Tigers. Not only do they give great instruction, they’re great people. I’m happy to be here.”
Jobe’s agent, Scott Boras, and the Tigers previously had a deal in place, so putting pen to paper Friday wasn’t any trouble. He begins his latest step in climbing to the big leagues Saturday, as he is scheduled to throw and workout at the complex.
“My first real day,” Jobe said. “I’m excited.”
He heard from 2020 No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson and 2019 No. 5 overall pick Riley Greene, both playing for Double-A Erie, after he was selected in the draft. He also texted with left-hander Matthew Boyd — a 30-year-old MLB starting pitcher — and plans to get lunch with him next week. (Boyd is rehabbing in Lakeland after landing on the injured list June 15 with a left arm discomfort.)
Jobe lives in his hotel room with No. 39 overall pick Izaac Pacheco, who the Tigers scooped up in the second round of the 2021 draft. They first spoke in September at the Perfect Game All-American Classic, a showcase event for top high school players, and once competed against each other as 14 year-olds, so they’re pumped to be on the journey together.
Pacheco, 18, is also a Boras client and signed Friday for $2.75 million, above the $1,906,800 slot value for the No. 39 pick.
ABOUT PACHECO: What he brings to Tigers, and how he’s already adjusting
“I felt comfortable and felt at home,” Jobe said about Lakeland. “It felt like this place was the right place for me and the place I was meant to be. I’m going to continue to meet more people and learn different things, but I feel right at home.”
Jobe is coming off a dominant senior season for Heritage Hall: 9-0 with a 0.13 ERA, five walks and 112 strikeouts over 51 ⅔ innings. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound righty was considered the highest upside pitcher in the draft because of his wicked slider and 99 mph four-seam fastball. He also throws a change-up and a curveball.
He hasn’t faced hitters competitively since May 14, the last game of his high school career. Over two months after Jobe’s latest outing, Tigers aren’t entirely sure if he is going to pitch this season. But general manager Al Avila said Tuesday the organization is optimistic about Jobe making some starts in Lakeland.
“He still has innings left in him,” Avila said. “The thought is to kind of bring him in and then get him on a program to pitch in games toward the end of the season.”
And Jobe is hungry for the challenge.
“If my arm is ready to go and everything works out, I’d love to,” Jobe said. “Obviously, I’m not going to push myself too far this early in my career. We’ll see, but I would love to be able to go out there and face guys.
“I think it’d be beneficial, kind of give me a taste of what it’s going to look like in the spring. That way, I have all offseason to prepare and know what to expect as far as the competition goes. Best case scenario, I’d love to do that.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.