MLB Pipeline ranks Max Clark as the Tigers new top prospect

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The latest edition of MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings have dropped, and in a little bit of a surprise, Max Clark edges out Colt Keith as the Detroit Tigers new top prospect. The 18-year-old center fielder, the Tigers selection with the third overall pick in July’s amateur draft, has already impressed in short order with four doubles, a triple, and two home runs in four games played in the rookie ball level Florida Complex League.

As a player projected to be at least an above average center fielder, Clark brings a much more well-rounded tool kit to the Tigers’ farm system despite his youth and inexperience. While Keith is comfortably the Tigers best hitting prospect and already on the cusp of the major leagues as he nears his 22nd birthday, he’s still a below average defender at second and third base and needs to continue polishing his game at those two positions. Meanwhile, Clark is a lot further away, but has the hit tool and developing power to give Keith a run for his money at the plate in time.

Clark checks in as the 15th best prospect in baseball on the new top 100, which features Baltimore Orioles infield prospect Jackson Holliday as the top prospect in the game. Keith is ranked 26th overall. RHP Jackson Jobe is at #59, while 2B Jace Jung rounds out the Tigers top 100 representatives at #72.

The new top 30 for the Tigers’ system specifically can be found here.

The first five in order are Max Clark, Colt Keith, Jackson Jobe, Jace Jung, and Kevin McGonigle.

We definitely will take issue with some of Pipeline’s rankings within the system here. Not sure how Ty Madden ends up ranked sixth, but that’s not egregiously high. Would still have both Wilmer Flores and Keidler Montero above him personally. Madden’s fastball just isn’t good and his command is no more further advanced than the two younger right-handers.

Think they’re a bit too high on Jung as well, though it’s a minor quibble, and too low on Parker Meadows, who has a far more stable floor than Jung does as a result of Meadows’ defensive value. Offensively, giving Jung the nod makes sense, but in terms of actual performance they’re quite comparable, and Meadows has the additional multiplier in his base stealing ability. Meadows at 10th, behind both Justyn-Henry Malloy and Hao-Yu Lee, is highly debatable in my view.

Lefty Brant Hurter at 12th, while RHP Keider Montero is inexplicably ranked 26th is their one huge miss, in my opinion. Ok if there’s someone at Pipeline who just loves Hurter, who we’d rank in the 20’s, so be it, but 12th seems a little crazy. Personally I’ll take Montero over Madden or Wilmer Flores now, so I’m not sure how they got to that assessment, but there are always differences of opinion to argue over. That’s just the biggest and most surprising deviation from my own view of the organization’s pitching prospects, and pretty far from how Tigers Minor League Report, and other national prospect sites seem to see things as well.

On the plus side, good to see RHP Troy Melton getting the helium, as he’s rapidly emerging as one of the Tigers top pitching prospects in his own right. Outfielder Justice Bigbie has kept up a torrid pace this season, and Pipeline starts him at 21st in the system after he came into the year unranked. Bigbie still has a lot to prove with the bat, and doesn’t provide much defensive value, but it’s hard to quibble much with that ranking. If Bigbie can sustain a strong finish to the season, he might feature even a bit higher next preseason.

Ultimately rankings are debate fodder, but Pipeline’s individual scouting reports are worth a read. We’re currently working on our summer updated of the BYB top 30, so you can expect that before the end of the month.

Who do you think is being over or under-rated by MLB Pipeline?

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