Detroit Tigers: Predicting Detroit’s first five picks

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 27: Players of the Florida Gators celebrate after defeating the LSU Tigers 6-1 to win the National Championship at the College World Series on June 27, 2017 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 27: Players of the Florida Gators celebrate after defeating the LSU Tigers 6-1 to win the National Championship at the College World Series on June 27, 2017 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers have the first overall pick in Monday’s MLB Draft. Here is who we predict they’ll take first overall, and with their next four picks as well.

Detroit Tigers fans are eagerly awaiting the MLB Draft, which begins Monday night at 7:00 EST. They’ll have the first overall pick for the first time since 1997, when they used it to ill-fatedly select Matt Anderson. It’s looking more and more like Detroit’s first overall pick will be Auburn right-hander Casey Mize, who has continued to dominate through the SEC this season.

Below is a five-round mock draft of whom we think the Tigers could target to help boost their farm system as they trek through the first season of their rebuild.

Round 1: Casey Mize – RHP, Auburn

The Detroit Tigers love their hard throwing SEC right-handers, and Casey Mize could not check more of the boxes you want to see out of a No. 1 overall pick. Mize throws hard (96 mph) with a nasty splitter that breaks into left-handers. He has a slider that sits in the low-80’s that he has worked to refine this year. That gives him a potential three plus pitches, with a developing changeup as well.

He also has incredible control, a rarity for college arms. Before this season, Mize had thrown 167 2/3 innings, striking out 228 and walking just 16. This season, Mize has a 151/12 K/BB ratio in 109 2/3 innings. He also has a 2.95 ERA, with opponents only hitting .195 off him.

The Tigers could look elsewhere with this pick, with Florida right-hander Brady Singer and Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart as options as well.

Round 2: Seth Beer – 1B, Clemson

Without a doubt the best power hitter in the entire draft, Clemson LF/1B Seth Beer is projected to fall around the supplemental first round. If he slides to Detroit with the first pick of round two, he would be a steal. Beer had an incredible freshmen year at Clemson, hitting .369 with 18 home runs and earning the Dick Howswer College Player of the Year award. He was excellent in 2017 and has looked excellent in 2018 again as well. In fact, he leads all active college baseball players in home runs. The two hitters behind him have each played in nearly 50 more games than him.

Beer, similar to Christin Stewart, has a lot of scouts questioning his defense at the big league level. He doesn’t have great defensive instincts and has a weak arm, making him a liability in the field. The Tigers may choose to pass on Beer simply because Stewart is a similar player, but if he falls to them in the second they should grab him. 70-grade power doesn’t come around all that often, and the opportunity to add a potential 35-40 home run bat in the second round is too good to pass up.

Round 3: Alex McKenna – CF, Cal Poly

McKenna has been a three-year starter in center field at baseball powerhouse Cal Poly. He hit .339 with 51 runs, 15 doubles and a .424 OBP in 2018. McKenna is an offense first prospect, with a line drive approach and solid plate discipline. He has a lot of raw power, with some scouts expecting him to tap into that and be a 20 home run threat in the big leagues.

The big question with McKenna, similar to Beer, is where he will play defensively. He has made some outstanding plays in center for Cal Poly, but some worry he will have to move to left field in the big leagues, which would limit his upside. If the Tigers feel he can be a future center fielder, he would be a nice piece to add at the top of the third round.

Round 4: Daniel Lynch – LHP, Virginia

The Detroit Tigers are flush with right-handed pitching in their farm system, although they are lacking in lefties. Lynch reminds me a lot of Tyler Alexander, a polished left-hander who has the ceiling of a No. 4 starter, but has basically already reached that ceiling. His floor is very high, and he is a relatively ‘safe’ selection. He doesn’t sport a ton of velocity, sitting 90-92. However, he controls his four-pitch mix well and has enough movement to keep hitters off-balance.

Round 5: Jonathan Ornelas – SS, Kellis HS

It would be pretty surprising if the Tigers didn’t take a single prep athlete in the first five rounds. Ornelas is an undersized shortstop with intriguing raw power, and is committed to play at University of Tennessee. Tennessee is by no means a baseball powerhouse however, so he definitely seems like a potential steal in the fifth round if he signs. Some scouts say he has late second to early third round potential, but most mock drafts have him in the fourth or fifth round.

Listed at six-foot, 165 pounds, Ornelas will need to fill out to reach his 20 home run potential. Scouts are also unsure about his ability to stick at shortstop, with some pegging him as a future third or second baseman. The Tigers have a decent crop of middle infielders in their system, but adding a young kid with pop is always a plus. Perhaps Ornelas and Isaac Paredes will make up the future middle infield in the Motor City.

Next: Best Draft Picks by Round in Team History

It goes without saying, but the Detroit Tigers are in a great position to add a handful of high-impact prospects to their farm system during the draft. While Mize may ultimately be the prize, the Tigers could certainly find a few other excellent pieces in this deep draft class.