Mize is the Prize

The Detroit Tigers, picking first in the 2018 MLB Draft, needed to seize this opportunity to speed up the rebuild that was begun last July. The theme of the Tigers draft would be defined by upside, which is vastly different then previous drafts for the Tiger front office. Looking over the first five picks, you can see nothing but opportunity with the players selected, starting with top overall prospect Casey Mize. If the Tigers strike gold with Mize and one or two of these other picks, look out.

1.1 – Casey Mize, RHP – Auburn
Mize was the consensus top prospect across most major websites and most predicted he would end up being selected by the Tigers. Mize boasts an above average fastball that can hit 97 mile per hour, but relies on his 70 grade (rated by MLB.com) splitter. He also features a cutter and a slider and has the makings to be a top of the rotation starter. On the year in the best league in college baseball, he has pitched to 10-6 record, with 156 strikeouts, and a solid 3.30 ERA while leading Auburn to a #2 seed in the College World Series (CWS) playoffs. What really stands out is that Mize has the ability to go late into games and can pile up the strikeouts, which are two things you should watch for if you end up snagging him in your league. Some outlets feel he is major league ready, but to my eye, I think a year or two of seasoning in the higher minor leagues will do him some good. He does appear to be a fast track candidate though and I would expect the Tigers to treat him similarly to Alex Faedo, who they started in High A this year after being shut down last season due to his run in the CWS. He easily lands as a top 5 Tigers prospect in the Midseason update coming in July.

2.44 – Parker Meadows, OF – Grayson High School (GA)
Meadows, the brother of current Pittsburg Pirates rookie outfielder Austin Meadows, is an intriguing, high upside (you’ll hear me say this a ton) prospect. He profiles as a centerfielder and if he can keep up his speed, he should be a welcome addition to the spacious Comerica Park outfield. He has a good deal of raw power. If he can develop his hitting, he could be a decent power hitting center fielder. My worry is that his hit tool does not develop and he turns into a speedy, defensive type player (think fellow Tiger prospect Derek Hill without the injuries). So he has the upside of an above average centerfielder. He is someone to keep an eye on for the coming years.

3.79 – Kody Clemens, 2B – Texas
Clemens, the son of former all star pitcher Roger Clemens, is another huge upside pick for the Tigers. Currently leading his Texas Longhorns to the College World Series, Clemens’ bat this year has been the winner. His bat, leading him to being named an All-American, is hitting .356/.449/.745, with 24 home runs, 5 stolen bases, and 178 total bases. He has been mostly playing as a DH or 2B this year due to the fact that he had Tommy John surgery in 2016, so his bat will what helps him advance in the Tigers minor league system. He’ll stick to the infield, as his defense will limit him to 2B. The Tigers, lacking on high upside infielder, may have hit a literal home run here. He’ll be interesting to watch, but again, his bat will dictate how far he advances in the minor leagues.

4.105 – Kingston Liniak, OF – Mission Hills High School (CA)

Liniak, already signed for an overslot deal by the Tigers, again sticks with the trend of upside. Liniak, tends to look like more of a defensive outfielder, who can play all over the outfield. He is speedy, but very lanky, so he’ll need to bulk up a tad to get to his potential to hit for power. Worst case, he is a speedy defensive replacement, while on the high end he could go for 20/20 if he bulks up. But the bat is a question mark at this point.

5.135 – Adam Wolf, LHP – Louisville

Wolf, again, screams upside. Used as a starter and as a reliever in college, he relies on a average pitches including a fastball, curveball, and changeup, His cutter, he only started using this year after watching Mariano Rivera‘s cutter on the internet, is his only above average offering. On year, he pitched to a 2.63 ERA with an 8-2 record. He compiled 109 strikeouts and only allowed opposing ACC hitters to hit .213 against him. He has the makings to be at his best a solid #4 or #5 starter, but I think he ends up as a reliever in the bullpen. He’ll get every chance to start, so the next year or so will be very telling on his development.

Featured image of Casey Mize – via Yahoo Sports MLB on Twitter

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.

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