Detroit Tigers: Small schools, big players define picks 6-10

SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 5: Representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball teams fill Studio 42 during the MLB First-Year Player Draft at the MLB Network Studio on June 5, 2014 in Secacucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 5: Representatives from all 30 Major League Baseball teams fill Studio 42 during the MLB First-Year Player Draft at the MLB Network Studio on June 5, 2014 in Secacucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila has gone with upside players on Day Two of the MLB Draft. This is a philosophical change for the Tigers.

The Detroit Tigers are through day two of the three day MLB Draft. On day one, they grabbed Auburn right-hander Casey Mize with the first overall pick. They followed suit by grabbing prep outfielder Parker Meadows in the second round.

We talked about Mize in an individual draft profile, and we discussed Meadows, Kody Clemens, Kingston Liniak and Adam Wolf in a post about rounds 2-5.

Now, we will take a look at the latter half of day two’s selections, picks 6-10.

Round 6: Hugh Smith, RHP, Whitworth

Hugh Smith was a five-foot-ten high school senior ready to give up on his baseball career when DIII Whitworth College gave him a call. Three years later, Smith became the first Whitworth player drafted since 2001. The difference is big: one foot to be exact.

Smith grew rapidly in college, getting up to six-foot-ten. His fastball that once sat 82-84 now gets up to a blistering 96 miles per hour, with late two-seam movement on it. It’s hard to judge Smith’s stats too much, as his level of competition is not great. However, he played well in the West Coast League, considered one of the premier college wood bat leagues.

“Whitworth is a smaller school, but 96 mph plays anywhere,” said a scout who has evaluated Smith this season. Smith is another guy the Tigers will hope to sign under the pick slot, in order to help them sign Parker Meadows and Kingston Liniak.

Round 7: Eric De La Rosa, OF, Grossmont College

De La Rosa, like Parker Meadows and Kingston Liniak, is a speedy center fielder with ‘plus batting practice power’ that scouts hope he can find in-game. At six-foot-four and 175 pounds, De La Rosa has some filling out to do. He has an aggressive approach at the plate, with strikeouts coming in bunches. If he can develop more pitch recognition, he should be able to reach his ceiling as a power hitting, speedy outfielder.

Here’s a quick look at the scouting report written by Baseball Consensus:

"Legitimate MLB Draft follow for 2018; raw, projectable body with considerable power makes him an attractive option out of Grossmont College. If not, will be a serious follow to his four-year stop next; very, very raw and likely to struggle quite a bit once into pro ball (rookie-level complex leagues would do him well right now), but the makings of some tools and the sheer projectability of his frame and game make De La Rosa one to track towards the MLB Draft right now."

Round 8: Jeremiah Burks, SS, Fresno State

Burks is a six-foot-two, 200 pound shortstop out of baseball powerhouse Fresno State. He hit .340 with nine home runs and 12 stolen bases in his junior year with the Bulldogs. Burks didn’t do much his freshmen and sophomore years, so like Clemens he really exploded onto the radar his junior year. The Tigers announced him as a second baseman, a sign that they don’t think he will stick at short.

There’s less out there on Burks, but he has speed and good size for a middle infielder. Al Avila has gone with upside quite a bit this draft, and Burks certainly fits that bill.

Round 9: Tarik Skubal, LHP, Seattle University

Before we get into this, on a personal note I have to say that I went to SeattleU for Grad School and worked in the athletic department. I know Tarik personally, and could not be more excited for him, or for the Tigers.

Most expected Skubal to go between rounds 4-6, so the Tigers got a steal to kick off the ninth round. Skubal is a big, projectable lefty with a fastball that can get up into the mid-90’s and electric breaking stuff. He had Tommy John surgery last year, which has certainly had an impact on his draft stock. However, he returned healthy and capped off an excellent senior year at SU, pitching to an 8-2 record with 106 strikeouts in 80 innings. His control needs work (56 walks) but he has the stuff to stick in the back of the rotation. And if not, his fastball and breaking ball combo would play excellent out of the bullpen, where he could get that heat up into the high-90’s.

Round 10: Brock Deatherage, OF, NC State

Deatherage is a six-foot-one, 186 pound outfielder who burst onto the scene his senior year at NC State. He hit .307/.397/.548 with 14 home runs and 18 stolen bases last season. The Tigers have certainly focused on adding toolsy outfielders this year, with Deatherage being the fourth power/speed outfielder they have taken.

Parker Meadows is the leader of the group, but Kingston Liniak, Eric De La Rosa and Deatherage will all compete for starting roles down in the low minors.

Next: Analyzing Detroit's Picks 2-5

The Detroit Tigers certainly prioritized upside on Day two of the MLB Draft. Skubal, Smith and De La Rosa are toolsy players from small schools, who other teams may have overlooked. While it’s possible they could all bust, it’s interesting to see the shift from Dombrowski’s old draft strategy (SEC power arms) to Avila’s more nuanced, risky approach.

It will be years until we know if it paid off, but it is at least more fun to watch.