The Detroit Tigers own the number one overall selection in the upcoming MLB Draft. Here at Motor City Bengals, we’re profiling the candidates to go first overall as the Tigers continue their rebuild.
Over their last 10 drafts, the Detroit Tigers spent a lot of their first round picks on pitchers. Of those 10 selections, seven were pitchers, all righties.
While it’s too early to tell on the most recent selections (Beau Burrows, Matt Manning, and Alex Faedo), the other selections didn’t pan out. Ryan Perry, Jacob Turner, Chance Ruffin, and Jonathon Crawford all failed to stick in Detroit.
Auburn righty Casey Mize is the favorite to go first to Detroit. However, unlike some recent drafts, there is no can’t-miss guy at the top. With Burrows, Manning, Faedo, and many others already in the minors, the Tigers could look to continue a different trend.
A position player went first overall in each of the last three drafts. If the Detroit Tigers decide to continue that trend, one of the more likely candidates is Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart.
Best Catcher in the Class
Widely regarded as the best catching prospect in this class, Bart just finished his junior year in Atlanta. Selected by Tampa Bay in the 27th round in 2015, Bart honored his commitment to Georgia Tech instead of signing. He’s now about to join Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters among former Yellow Jacket catchers to go in the first round.
A native Georgian, Bart improved in each of his three seasons. As a freshman, he hit .299 with little power, managing just one home run. His sophomore year, he bashed 13 homers while hitting .296.
He took his offense to another level this season. Bart hit .359, launched 16 home runs, and was named the ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
Like most power hitters he strikes out a lot, but has shown a knack for drawing free passes. After walking in a mere 4.6 percent of his plate appearances as a freshman, he almost doubled that to 7.7 percent his sophomore year. His walk rate nearly doubled again this season, to more than 15 percent.
College hitters are generally considered to be the safest picks in the draft. Bart’s ability to hit, hit for power, and play a premium position makes him a hot commodity in this year’s class.
Bart’s Fit in Detroit
James McCann and Grayson Greiner are holding down the catching spots for the Tigers right now, with John Hicks garnering playing time there as well. While all three have performed well recently, none of the three are expected to be the Detroit Tigers catcher of the future.
The most-likely catcher of the future, Jake Rogers, is currently at Double-A. Acquired in the Justin Verlander trade, Rogers rates as one of the best defensive backstops in the minors. However, he’s had an awful year so far at the plate. He’s slashing .159/.246/.230, and didn’t pick up an extra-base hit until a few weeks ago.
Last year’s third rounder Joey Morgan and fifth rounder Sam McMillan currently reside in MLB Pipeline’s Top 20 in the system, too. Morgan’s average stands at .226 through 31 games for Class A West Michigan. McMillan is at extended spring training, likely headed for a short-season affiliate next month.
The Detroit Tigers boast plenty of options behind the plate. That doesn’t mean Bart shouldn’t be considered. When rebuilding, talent is talent, and it’s always best to stockpile as much as you can and figure the rest out later.
The Detroit Tigers need to get this one right as they continue their rebuild. Casey Mize is the most-likely selection, but Detroit has not finalized their decision yet. We’ll find out who the Tigers go with when the 2018 MLB Draft begins Monday, June 4.