Tigers put premium on hitting with Day 1 picks

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT — After swinging big for five-tool talent Max Clark with the first Draft pick of the Scott Harris administration, the Tigers spent their remaining two picks of Day 1 focused on one tool: Pure hitters.

“We carried the theme that I’ve been talking about since the day I got into this organization,” said president of baseball operations Harris. “We wanted to find hitters who dominate the strike zone, and we still want to find pitchers who can pound the strike zone. I think with the three picks that we just made, we believe in the hit tool for all three of them.”

McGonigle, the 37th overall selection, has earned comparisons to Chase Utley, and not just for his Philly upbringing. He’s a left-handed hitter with highly rated contact skills, a gritty approach and an advanced knowledge of the game. He struck out just twice in 25 games for his senior season at Monsignor Bonner High School, batting .530 with eight doubles, four triples, six homers and 22 RBIs on his way to Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year honors. He was a teammate of Clark on Team USA at last year’s U-18 Baseball World Cup.

The hitting is how McGonigle landed at No. 33 on MLB Pipeline’s Draft rankings. His 60-grade hit tool is 10 points higher than any other grade on the Pipeline scouting report.

“He is one of the best pure high school hitters in the class,” Tigers scouting director Mark Conner said. “I mean, his bat-to-ball skills are up there with probably anybody in the class based on the evaluations of our staff. He hit on Team USA and hit throughout the summer. Every time that our scouts went in this spring, he continued to hit.”

The 5-foot-10, 187-pound McGonigle plays shortstop and second base.

“You look at him, he’s not the biggest guy, rangiest guy,” Conner said, “but he has very good footwork, very good hands and plenty of arm to play on the left side of the diamond. Now, he also has the ability to go to the right side and play second base. There is a versatility aspect to him. But we view him a shortstop. He’s shown that he can play it at a very high level in the high school game. We’ll give him every opportunity to do that as he gets into the professional ranks.”

McGonigle committed to play college ball for the Auburn Tigers. The Detroit Tigers, with the second-largest Draft signing pool of any team this year, should have the money to steer him to turn pro, especially if they sign Clark for under slot value as expected.

Anderson, the No. 91 player on MLB Pipeline’s Draft rankings, was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2021, a unanimous first-team all-conference selection this spring and a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award. The right-handed hitter batted .414 with 20 doubles, two triples, 21 homers and 70 RBIs in 57 games this season. Ten of his first 13 homers this spring went to the opposite field, a reflection of his quick swing and strength. His defensive skills are more limited, prompting comparisons to Mariners star Ty France, but his bat will determine his future.

“He has a very high, intense swing that’s looking to do damage,” Conner said. “Barrel stays through the zone extremely long. He’s able to drive the ball to all fields and had a tremendous performance this year. He’s a guy that our staff truly feels has a lot of better days ahead of him.”

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