Here’s a look at five more 2024 MLB draft prospects who may interest the Tigers

Bless You Boys

The month of May marks roughly the halfway point in the 2024 draft cycle, which has about two and a half months left. The Detroit Tigers were awarded the eleventh pick in this year’s MLB Draft lottery, which is a pretty good place to be picking in the upcoming class.

There’s a massive amount of college talent projected to be picked in the top half of this year’s first round, with the second tier of prospects ending near Detroit’s pick. They’ll likely be out of reach for headline grabbing names like Charlie Condon or Hagen Smith, but there’s still a handful of interesting names that may be available when they come on the clock.

Two months ago, we outlined the trends that shape how the current front office staff looks at amateur talent and highlighted seven players who may capture their interest. That list included Seaver King and Konnor Griffin, who are still very much in play for the eleventh pick. Some of the information in that article has already been outdated – for instance, Mike Sirota’s draft stock has fallen off pretty badly – but you can find that article here if you haven’t read it yet.

With the majority of the college season under our belt, it’s a good time to look at another handful of players who could be playing in the Tigers organization this fall.

RHP Trey Yesavage, ECU

It would be dishonest to paint Yesavage as an unknown who’s fought his way into consideration for the Tigers’ pick. However, he’s earned himself a lot of money this year with the way he’s played. The ECU Pirates’ ace was on the first round bubble when the season started and he’s now unlikely to slip out of the top half of the round. Recent mock drafts have featured Yesavage in the area where Detroit will be picking and he was the selection in a recent mock by MLB Pipeline.

There’s a lot to like about Yesavage. He checks the boxes for physicality, performance, and stuff. He has a quarterback’s frame, and teams will have no problem projecting a starter’s workload onto his sturdy 6-foot-4 build, although Keith Law notes that his unique delivery may undercut that durability with added injury risk. Across 11 starts for ECU, Yesavage has been utterly dominants and has allowed just two home runs while striking out over 15 batters per nine innings. He has also tightened up his control, leading to a sparkling 1.73 ERA and 5.38 K/BB ratio.

Yesavage has the talent to back up those results. He has the reputation of an intelligent pitcher who draws from a deep arsenal. According to Prospects Live, he is able to weaponize his fastball as an out pitch, throwing it has hard as 98 miles per hour, but it generally sits in a lower 93-95 mph velocity band. He backs it up with three off speed pitches – slider and changeup variants that are characterized differently by different evaluators and a get me over curve that is his weakest pitch.

The slider, which is sometimes called a cutter because he throws it in the mid to upper 80s, and may wind up being classified as a sweeper once Statcast gets its virtual eyes on the pitch. It’s his strikeout pitch against righties. Yesavage throws his changeup with a splitter grip and gets excellent diving action with the pitch. Prospects Live likes it against lefties and Law sees it as an effective offering against hitters on either side of the plate.

The lack of an ultra-effective fastball probably caps his future value and it’s not likely that Yesavage is an ace in the making. However, no one will be surprised if he emerges as a front of the rotation starter in a couple years and his high end projections have him as a number two pitcher in a competitive rotation. The Tigers have gotten very good at refining both splitters and cutters, which makes Yesavage a hypothetically good fit with the player development system in Detroit.

OF Vance Honeycutt, North Carolina

The upcoming draft is packed with college hitting, and Honeycutt is among the most athletic of the batch. He was paired with the Tigers in recent mock drafts from Bleacher Report and Perfect Game, and he would likely be an immediate hit with the segment of Tigers fans who have been aching for tooled-up college hitters in every recent draft class.

It’s not hard to see the appeal with Honeycutt. He’s a power-speed athlete who transitioned from shortstop to the outfield and has become an outstanding defender who makes highlight catches in center and has the arm strength to handle the corners. Honeycutt broke the UNC home run record as a freshman and with eight games left on this year’s schedule, he has the chance to break it again. He was the school’s first player to put up a 20-20 season and will almost certainly be their first with a 20-30 season when this year ends.

In other words, the things he does well can’t be taught.

The only thing that prevents him from being mentioned alongside players like Charlie Condon and Jac Caglianone as a potential top pick is his contact issues. That’s a major red flag when considering someone for Detroit’s first round pick. I have a hard time seeing the Tigers investing the eleventh overall pick in a player who struggles so badly with strikeouts. Keith Law compared him to Jud Fabian, whose stock was tanked to the second round after being an early top five prospect in 2021. It would be completely contrary to the team’s stated philosophy and their track record in player acquisition.

The counterpoint here is that Honeycutt doesn’t get baited into expanding the strike zone. He lives in the zone, and his contact issues stem from his steep swing being victimized rather than poor swing decisions. In fact, Prospects Live describes him as having “excellent plate vision and discipline.” If I’m wrong about how the team sees him, that’s why. Justyn-Henry Malloy has a similar issue, particularly with reading breaking pitches lower in the zone, and much has been made about the enthusiasm Scott Harris feels for Malloy.

3B/1B Tommy White, LSU

The most famous returning college athlete at the end of last season was probably Tommy Tanks. He was a freshman sensation at NC State who hit 27 home runs for the Wolfpack and brought his big boppin’ ways to the SEC in 2023. His statline last season was an eye-watering .374/.432/.725 with a matched set of 24 doubles and 24 dingers. The walkoff home run that propelled LSU to the College World Series over Wake Forest came off White’s bat, cementing his celebrity status with college fans and draftniks.

Although White’s production has taken a step backward during the current college season, it’s not enough to knock him out of consideration for a spot in the first round and is partly a result of his BABIP deflating from the .360 range in his first two years to .330ish this year. Thickly built, he strikes an imposing figure, and his impressive mane and beard give White a mountain man type appearance. He passes the gut check for people who care about intangibles; there has never been a moment too big for him.

Baseball America published an excellently detailed breakdown of his skills in February, “He steps in the box ready to hit, is not afraid to jump on the first pitch and shows an outstanding feel for the barrel. White has above-average bat-to-ball skills and last year sported an 87% in-zone contact rate. He has 60-grade power to all fields, as well as a plus hit tool,” they said in part.

White knows his bread is buttered in the batter’s box, but he’s hyper-aggressive to his own detriment. His walk and strikeout rates are at career bests so far this season, which may salve those concerns to an extent, but the chase rate will be a tough pill to swallow for a hitter who needs to utterly mash to make a high investment worthwhile. A pro team has nothing to lose by letting him give third base a pro at the next level, but he’s almost certainly going to slide across the diamond to first base soon. On the spectrum of recent college first baseman, I see White as the midway point between Spencer Torkelson and Jacob Berry.

3B Cam Smith, Florida State

Smith was the rare true freshman who earned an everyday role for the ‘Noles in 2023 and will therefore have plenty of track record to lean on as a draft eligible sophomore. He was good enough to be drafted out of high school, and Perfect Game ranked him 58th among high school recruits in his graduating class. He went undrafted, presumably because, as an overager for his class without a clear defensive home, no one was willing to buy him out of his commitment to Florida State. This time around, there’s no question that someone will bite and make him a top-50 pick.

It was a bumpy road at times as Smith adapted to collegiate pitching last year, and he showed inconsistent feel for the barrel with a strikeout rate that just barely stopped short of the dreaded 30 percent line. The growth he’s made between then and now cannot be overstated. He hit well in the Cape Cod League last fall, which is always a positive indicator, and he’s been a much cooler hand at the plate this season. Discipline is even looking like a strength these days as he continues to crank out extra base hits.

Smith has trimmed down somewhat from last year as well, and scouting services are in agreement that he will be more than suitable at third base. As a former shortstop, his arm plays just fine on the left side of the diamond and he’s gotten quick enough for his team to sleep well at night knowing he’s at the hot corner.

The only question remaining is how much of his raw power Smith will be able to access consistently as a professional. Prospects Live, who are higher on him than others, cites elite exit velocities and a swing geared for line drives as reasons for faith in his future. His detractors don’t question the strength he brings to the table, but see him more as a doubles hitter because of his approach, which could raise questions about his value as a corner infielder. I think the Tigers will be one of the teams with Smith higher on their board because of his model-friendly and stable skillset.

OF Fabio Peralta, Miami Christian HS (FL)

You’re not likely to see Peralta getting much attention on draft boards because he doesn’t quite have the skills in place to be a high draft pick. He’s committed to Miami and, frankly, I have no idea whether he would even be open to turning pro for the amount of money a team could scrape together for an overslot offer in fifth round or so. However, the Harris led Tigers have shown an affinity for investing in high schoolers, and as far as non-elite high schoolers go, Peralta is a guy I like a lot.

Long and athletic, Peralta has the kind of frame that has always been a siren song for baseball executives. When it works out, you wind up with a prospect like Parker Meadows, who brings the juice for double digit home runs in addition to his outstanding defensive range and baserunning. If the physicality never develops, there’s still an avenue to MLB playing time as a defensive-minded backup and pinch runner.

There’s an ocean of skinny, quick teenagers out there, but what sets Peralta apart is that he has legitimate power projection. His swing is quick and he’s not afraid to take an uppercut path to the ball. With his 6-foot-2 frame, it’s not hard to see how some added muscle and a shorter swing could endow him with some juice. It’s a realistic enough possibility to earn him a 10 from Perfect Game, which isn’t common for prospects without much national repute.

In the hands of a team who’s willing to be patient with him, Peralta could become a prospect who offers value on both sides of the ball. If he goes to Miami and things go well for him there, he stands to make a lot more money than he will this summer. However, some prospects are just too eager to play ball to take the long view, and if Peralta seems amenable to turning pro, he is as good a slow burn prospect as you’re likely to find in the middle rounds.

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