Potential for Detroit Tigers’ Jackson Jobe? ‘No. 1 starter on championship team’

Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — Detroit Tigers right-hander Jackson Jobe is the organization’s next big thing.

Three former top prospects — pitchers Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning — have already made their MLB debuts. Two current top prospects — first baseman Spencer Torkelson and outfielder Riley Greene — will reach the highest level in 2022.

Jobe, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 draft, is on deck.

He’s only 19 years old, but his arsenal is considered elite. Jobe is ranked as the Tigers’ No. 3 prospect and the 46th-best prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He signed with the Tigers for $6.9 million in July.

As a senior for Heritage Hall High in Oklahoma City, Jobe was 9-0 with a 0.13 ERA, five walks and 122 strikeouts over 51⅔ innings. He tossed a pair of no-hitters, led Heritage Hall to a state championship and was named Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year.

Jobe also played shortstop, hitting .469 with seven home runs, five triples, 13 doubles, 21 walks, five strikeouts and 13 stolen bases in 32 games.

JEFF SEIDEL: How Jackson Jobe went from barely touching 90 mph to the Tigers’ top draft pick

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound righty has yet to pitch in a professional game and should start his career with Low-A Lakeland or High-A West Michigan. He isn’t expected to pitch for the Tigers in this year’s big-league spring training games.

Here’s what one National League scout, who evaluated Jobe numerous times and requested anonymity because of his employment, told the Free Press:

When did you first see Jackson Jobe, and what called you to him?

“I mean, super athlete, just a really gifted kid athletically. I saw him last summer (2020 season), and the stuff was evident. You knew he was going to throw harder. When I first saw him, he was like 92-94 (mph). The breaking ball was such a separator. High-spin pitch, swing and miss. He could land it whenever he wanted.”

So, his fastball wasn’t upper-90s at that point?

“No, no, no. He was low-mid (90s).”

But the breaking ball was always the separator?

“True separator. I think most people would have told you going into last year that he was a second- or third-rounder, going into last spring. And then it just went to another level.”

What was it like watching him go to that next level?

“Electric. I mean, it’s probably the best pure amateur stuff I’ve ever seen.”

Seriously?

“Yeah. I put Riley Pint (No. 4 overall pick in 2016 by the Colorado Rockies) right in that mix, too. Obviously, Riley hasn’t turned out as great. He self-retired from baseball not too long ago. But you go and see Riley Pint, he’ll show you 100 (mph) every time you walk on the yard. It was a 70 breaking ball (on a 20-80 scouting scale), a 70 slider, a 60-70 changeup. The difference with Jobe — now Riley was bigger, but Jobe throws way more strikes.”

The strike-throwing is also going to be a separator, right?

“100%. But I mean, Jobe, you see 94 to 98-99 every time you went in there. You see life to the fastball, you got swings and misses. The slider/curveball, whatever he wants to call it, was an 80 on a 20-80 scale. It was an 8.”

Dang.

“I mean, (Corey) Kluber-esque — that type of breaking ball. Just swing and miss, and it lands, and it’s high spin. It’s the complete package of a breaking ball.”

Jackson Jobe reacts to first bullpen; catcher Eliezer Alfonzo praises ‘really good spin’ ]

When you first saw Jobe, how long did it take you to realize his potential?

“About three pitches.”

Really?

“Yeah, it was that easy with him. He played shortstop as well, so you got to see the real athleticism out there. He’s a prospect as a hitter, too, just the ceiling on the mound is higher. He’s got a chance to be impact, impact on the mound, whereas I think offensively, the ceiling was like an everyday player, potentially. It was just a different arm, just the ability to throw strikes, the athleticism, the arm speed, the stuff. It was incredible. Fun guy to watch.”

The Tigers passed on Marcelo Mayer, the shortstop who went fourth overall to the Boston Red Sox, and picked Jobe. Do you think the Tigers made the right choice at No. 3 in the draft?

“Yeah. I’ve seen Marcelo Mayer. I’ve seen a lot of those other guys. He would have been the No. 1 high school player on my board.”

Jobe was the No. 1 high school player on your board, you’re saying?

“Yeah. I saw Marcelo Mayer. He’s over him for me.”

DRAFT NIGHT: Why Tigers think prep pitcher Jackson Jobe is ‘total package’ at No. 3 overall

What is Jobe’s potential?

“If everything lines up, he’s the No. 1 starter in the big leagues on a championship team.”

What gives him that edge?

“The athlete, the competitiveness, the ability to throw strikes and just the stuff. He pitches with a 7 fastball (70 grade on 20-80 scale). He’s got life. He pounds the zone. He’s got an 8 breaking ball (80 grade) and a 7 changeup (70 grade). That’s a lot of 7s and 8s. Really, really talented kid.”

What do you know about the person?

“Good kid, man, hard worker, good makeup. No negatives. Every situation is different. Some come with some negatives, some don’t. I’m sure there’s someone out there, if you ask them, who doesn’t like Jackson Jobe as a person. Someone probably had something. But from every interaction and thing that I saw, I have zero issues with the kid.”

Is there anything else to know about Jobe?

“I think the crazier thing is he’s always been a position player first, like his whole life. Now you’re getting a guy — I mean, it makes you believe, like, holy crap, man — this guy has been a shortstop his whole life, and now we’re seeing what he can do on the mound. That’s the most impressive thing. This guy just has a natural feel, and he’s that athletic. He has the ability to repeat and do what he does. It’s incredible.”

The fact that he didn’t come up as a pitcher, does that make you wonder what else is in that arm?

“The sky’s the limit. You’re obviously projecting on that, which is scary in itself, but you’re talking about a kid that’s just scratching the surface of what he can do, and he already has that type of arsenal. It’s like, what else will this guy be able to do once he develops and devotes all his time to it?”

Does Jobe profile as a pitcher who can move quickly through the minor leagues?

“I think he could move fast just based on the pure stuff, but you got to be careful with those high school kids. You want them to have success, and you want them to develop at their rate and not overuse them early to rush them there. I think he’ll move at the pace he needs to based on how he performs. If he were there (in MLB) in a year-and-a-half, I’m not going to be like, ‘No way.’ And if it takes three years, I’m like, ‘Yeah, you know, I get it.’ If I’m the Tigers, I’m using him based on how we’re doing. Obviously, it’s not great right now in Detroit, so there’s no reason to rush him. But at the same time, you got Casey Mize up there. You got some young prospects. Spencer Torkelson is coming on. But you got time to get all those guys together and not start the clock.”

Is there anything the Tigers should avoid with Jobe’s development?

“I think, one, rushing him there and setting back his progress. A lot of times, when you rush a guy there, they move to the bullpen because he may not be able to start right away. If you rush him there in 9-10 months, what has he learned so far in the minors that he needs to develop to get people out at the big-league level? You got to watch the workload. You got to be careful about how you use him moving forward. You want to be careful where he’s coming in strong and can log a year’s worth of innings at a limit. Honestly, I just think you got to be careful. This kid’s a mature kid, but they’re still 18-19 years old at the end of the day.”

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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