The Detroit Tigers have not given fans much to cheer about this year at the major league level. With the success of the lower level teams, the future seems to have some hope. Can the Tigers add to that with this year’s draft crop? Over the three days of the draft they went heavy with pitching and focused more on players coming out of college. Let’s take a look at the first five round selections and the best of the rest that may factor into a revised Tigers Top 50 after the trade deadline, where the Tigers are looking more and more like sellers next month. I’ll only be looking at players who have signed or are likely to sign.
First Round – Alex Faedo, RHP, University of Florida
Faedo is the latest in a recent trend of Gator pitchers to go early. Alex has yet to sign, as his team is still alive in the College World Series. I would expect him to sign shortly after his season with the Gators concludes. The Tigers will look to use him as a starter and fits the typical mode of recent Tigers first round picks. Alex’s fastball grades out as a 60 and his slider as a 65. His fastball can range from 90-95 miles per hour and his slider is just plain nasty. If he doesn’t succeed as a starter, he could definitely be a great late inning receiver, but he wasn’t drafted this early for the bullpen. Alex will easily slide into my top ten prospects next month. This year for the Gators, he compiled a 3.18 ERA (which I believe is what helped him drop to the Tigers) and 133 strikeouts over 104.2 innings. In his last start in the College World Series, he went 7.2 innings, with 9 strikeouts, and gave up 2 earned. I would expect him to continue with similar numbers and due to the amount of innings he has already pitched this year, he could end up in Short-A ball to start his Tiger career. He could definitely be a fast riser in the system, similar to how the Tigers are handling Kyle Funkhouser. He is definitely one to keep an eye on and adds to the already strong starting pitchers that are in the system. A future starting lineup of Faedo, Funkhouser, Matt Manning, Beau Burrows, and current MLB starter Michael Fulmer could do magical things.
Second Round – Reynaldo Rivera, OF, Chipola College (JUCO)
This pick left me wanting more. Rivera is a great talent, but there was better talent on my board that I felt fit the system’s needs better. Reynaldo did sign with the Tigers for $850,000 which is below slot, so I believe they are trying to save money on this pick to better sign Alex Faedo. With all that said, Reynaldo does have some talent. He profiles as a 1B to me, but the Tigers drafted him as an outfielder. I think his average fielding lands him as a left fielder. While at Chipola, he helped lead the team to the Junior College World Series National Championship where he led the team with a .438/.534/.865 line. He also had 20 home runs, 20 doubles, and struck out 22% of the time. To me, he profiles as a middle of the order type hitter. He could hit for a decent average and put up between 20 – 30 home runs a season, if his game can translate from JUCO ball. My worry is it won’t and he ends up as a .240 power hitter, which is not what the Tigers are drafting him for. He’ll land somewhere in the 15 – 30 range in my next rankings. I want to see him hit against elite pitching before I can rate him higher. Since he has already signed, he has been assigned to Short-A Connecticut to start the season. So far he has not registered a hit in 3 games (10 at bats) while starting in right field.
Third Round – Joey Morgan, C, University of Washington
I HATE this pick. There were consensus better catchers still on the board and this was indeed another reach to me. From a fantasy perspective, he may not have much value. Morgan is a glove first catcher and while he may rank at the higher end of catchers in the Tigers system (note: it is weak), I don’t think he’ll end up with much fantasy appeal. He only started hitting this year, going .324/.427/.500 with 5 home runs. The previous years, he went .215/.318/.323 and .263/.350/.425. I don’t see much value in the pick and if I slot in him the Top 50 at all, it will be in the 40-50 range behind both Grayson Greiner and another pick this year, Sam McMillan. He needs to prove to me to be a consistent hitter to have any value at all and I hope he comes out to shock me. At this point, I would avoid in all fantasy. He is signed with slot value and I would expect him to report to a team shortly.
Fourth Round – Gio Arriera, RHP, Palm Beach CC (JUCO)
Arriera is an interesting selection here in the fourth round. After not being drafted in 2016, he went to junior college and excelled. His fast ball is his best pitch, which can get as high as 95 mph. He worked as a starter and went 10-2, with 90 punch-out’s and a 3.89 ERA. He does appear to have some control issues and I think in the long run he will end up as a reliever. I think that does hurt his fantasy value, as I don’t think he has the stuff to be a shutdown closer. I’m curious to see how the Tigers treat him, but he’ll be a low ranking in my next Top 50 as he is definitely a long way away from contributing to the major league club.
Fifth Round – Sam McMillan, C, Suwanee HS
This is a very solid pick by the Tigers. McMillan is an interesting prospect and I am definitely intrigued by him. In my eyes, he has greater potential than 3rd round pick Joey Morgan. While he isn’t the kind of sexy prospect that others may love, he is just a solid all round player. He seems like he could hit for decent contact, with a little pop, while displaying decent defense. I can’t find a flaw and I think he could have a chance to be a starter someday at the MLB level, be it three to four years down the road. He was signed for over slot, so I would expect him to report to the rookie leagues when those get started up. He will slot into the Top 50 prospects, probably in the 30-40 range, with a great deal of room to go.
Best of the Rest
Seventh Round – Brad Bass, RHP, University of Notre Dame
Bass is pitcher that fits the Tigers draft profile perfectly. He finished the year as Notre Dame’s number 1 starter, but has experience as a reliever at both Notre Dame and in the Cape Cod league. I feel like he profiles more as a late inning reliever, as he has shown a 93-95 mph fastball, which he can punch up to 97 occasionally. The Tigers may start him as a starter, but I think he will end up being a late inning reliever and could have closer type stuff with some development. He should land as a ranked prospect in my next Top 50. He signed at full slot value and should start play in the Tigers system shortly.
Tenth Round – Garrett McCain, CF, Oklahoma State University
McCain is a very interesting prospect and I love his upside. On a very average Oklahoma State squad, he stood out to me. He started every game, registering .388/.491/.549 with 19 stolen bases (in 20 attempts) and 4 home runs. He seems like the top of the lineup speedster that could be a table setter type of player. He looks like a Rajai Davis type player to me at his best, where I think he could hit in the .260 – .270 range with 30 or so stolen bases. I’m in love with this pick and if he hits, I think he could be a fast riser on both our Top 50 and in the Tigers system that does have some depth in the outfield.
Eleventh Round – Garett King, RHP, California Baptist University
King could be a steal for the Tigers. He started his college career at Nebraska where he had a great freshman year and a mediocre sophomore season. He transferred to California Baptist and returned to his freshman form. He finished the year with a 2.33 ERA, going 7-1, with 11 starts and did record a save as well. He pitched 77.1 innings this season and had 85 strikeouts. I feel like he could be a back end of the rotation starter or a late inning reliever and will be someone that I’m watching closely. I don’t know if he’ll crack my Top 50 or not, but he is on the cusp. He is definitely one of the more intriguing picks to me, as I want to see if this year was a fluke and if his sophomore Nebraska numbers were more of what we should expect out of him professionally. He has signed and I would expect him to report to Short-A or the rookie leagues later this season.
Twentieth Round – Dylan Burdeaux, 1B, University of Southern Mississippi
Burdeaux is an interesting prospect and could slot in immediately as one of the better first baseman in the Tigers system. Dylan was the Conference USA Player of the Year, where he hit .337, with 12 homers, and led college baseball in hits with 102. He also had 21 stolen bases. I could see him as a sneaky player that could make his way up the Tigers system and will be someone on my radar. He may sneak in my rankings and could be the steal of this draft for the Tigers in the later rounds.
Twenty-Seventh Round – Jake Bivens, UTIL, University of Michigan
Bivens has Andrew Romine written all over him. He is an intriguing prospect that can play all over the infield, I envision him as the Tigers next super utility player. If he hits somewhat at the minor league level, I could see him making the major league level someday. In his last season at Michigan, he had a .273/.436/.337 and 24 stolen bases. He doesn’t have much power, so I feel like he could be a .240 hitting utility player that could be a stop gap for injuries in fantasy rosters someday. Not much value, but he could have some if he hits.
Article featured image of Joey Morgan – courtesy seattletimes.com/Ken Lambert
Nick Bradford is a writer for Prospects 1500 covering the Detroit Tigers. He resides in southeast Michigan with his wife and daughter. He is an avid fan of the Tigers, the Mudhens, and anything baseball (fantasy or MLB). He is a graduate of Central Michigan University and works as a support manager for a software company. Follow me on Twitter at @firedupchippewa.