Tigers expected to draft top college outfielder with third overall pick

Detroit News

An exceptional MLB Draft, deeper in talent than has been seen in years, is poised to deliver the Tigers an extraordinary player when Detroit chooses at the third-overall slot.

Three players who would head nearly any other year’s MLB Draft are bunched in a tense race to see who lands first with the Pirates when Commissioner Rob Manfred makes the initial call shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday.

The Tigers are expected to choose either of two highly touted college outfielders – Wyatt Langford from the University of Florida, or as appears increasingly likely, Dylan Crews from Louisiana State.

Paul Skenes, the 6-foot-6, lightning-bolt tosser and right-handed ace from LSU, is something of a consensus call to land with the Nationals with tonight’s second pick.

The draft airs on the MLB Network and ESPN.

The Tigers aren’t locked into selecting whichever of the three players is available at No. 3, but their presumed craving for a college bat makes either Langford or Crews the likely call.

Crews is a right-handed hitter and center fielder who this season helped LSU to a national championship by virtue of his stunning numbers: 71 games, a .426 batting average, .567 on-base percentage, and 18 home runs, all part of a mighty 1.280 OPS in college baseball’s league that comes closest to offering steady MLB-grade pitching: the Southeastern Conference.

Langford, who also bats right-handed and who can likewise play center, had somewhat similar numbers at Florida (.378/.498/.784/1.282, with 21 homers). His advantage is believed to be tied to money.

Langford is expected to sign for less than the $9.7 maximum MLB prescribes for the first-overall pick, while Crews, who is represented by Scott Boras, is believed to be holding to a higher payday that the Pirates, at expense to their overall draft allowance, could offer but likely prefer to hang onto.

The Tigers are obliged by MLB to offer the third-overall pick no more than $8.3 million, a figure they likely feel comfortable negotiating with Crews and Boras – should the draft play out in a manner now anticipated.

The Tigers could still choose differently tonight. Best bets there are prep outfielders Walker Jenkins and Max Clark, each of whom could go in tonight’s top five slots. Another possible consideration is Kyle Teel, a catcher from the University of Virginia.

The Tigers will have two more picks tonight: at 37 overall (a compensation pick allowed teams that meet low-ball market and attendance requirements), and their second-round turn at No. 45.

The Tigers are believed to be leaning toward a high-school, left-side infielder with either of tonight’s later selections.

The MLB Draft continues Monday with rounds 3-10. Rounds 11-30 complete the sweepstakes Tuesday.

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