ESPN analyst: Tigers very likely to draft college bat first; Brock Porter doesn’t ‘make sense’

Detroit News

Detroit — The Tigers like to draft high-end pitching, but this isn’t the best draft for that. There’s a talent-pool issue, and there are injury concerns with some of the upper-echelon guys.

And all that might just be a blessing for Detroit, given all its offensive woes at the major-league level in 2022.

ESPN MLB Draft analyst Kiley McDaniel, holding court with reporters Tuesday afternoon, puts the chances of the Tigers taking a college hitter at “two-thirds” and a college pitcher “one-third,” with a very slim chance they select a high-school pitcher with the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s draft, which starts Sunday.

“They’d like to take a college pitcher, but this is a really bad college-pitcher class, so they no means are forced to do that, because I don’t think that’s necessarily what the board’s giving them,” McDaniel said. “I think what the board is giving them is a college hitter. I think they are most likely to go that direction, I think, given where they are competitively and trying to get over the hump.”

Last year, the Tigers took a high-school pitcher in right-hander Jackson Jobe, and have been linked by many of this year’s mock drafts to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s right-hander Brock Porter.

McDaniel likes Porter, who could be the first pitcher off the board, but doesn’t think he’s a fit for the Tigers. College players typically get to The Show faster than preps.

“I don’t think a high-school pitcher makes any sense at all, even though it sounds like they like Brock Porter. He’s local, he’s very good, all those things,” McDaniel said. “It’s hard for me to stomach.

“They don’t really want to do that, again, because of the competitive situation.”

Rather, McDaniel likes Jace Jung, a second baseman out of Texas Tech, and “there’s a good shot that he’ll be there and go right around that pick.” That’s who’s mocked to the Tigers by MLB.com’s Jim Classic. McDaniel also mentioned Jacob Berry, a third baseman and outfielder out of LSU, though he said No. 12 is “probably as low as he could get.” Tennessee outfielder Jordan Beck could be a realistic target; MLB.com has him mocked in the 20s, and McDaniel said there’s “a chance to be maybe All-Star talent if he totally hits.”

The “dream,” McDaniel said, would be Virginia Tech outfielder Gavin Cross. He’s mocked to go as high as the eighth overall pick, with a chance of falling to 13 or 14.

“There’s a chance he gets to 12,” said McDaniel, “and I’d imagine they’d pick him if he does.”

With the 12th pick, the Tigers are drafting later than they have since 2017, when they took Alex Faedo 17th overall. They took Casey Mize and Spencer Torkelson first in 2018 and 2020, respectively, and took Riley Greene fifth in 2019. They took Jobe third last year, and he’s pitching at Low-A Lakeland.

This year’s MLB Draft runs Sunday through Tuesday, with 20 rounds. The Tigers, with no competitive-balance or compensatory picks, will make 20 selections.

Porter, Michigan outfielder Clark Elliott and Central Michigan right-hander are the state prospects expected to be taken in the first five rounds. Porter is a Clemson commit, and is favored to be a first-round selection unless teams are scared off by his willingness to sign for anywhere close to the slot-price recommendation.

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tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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