2020 MLB Draft Profile: 3B Gage Workman has tremendous tools

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Gage Workman bats ional team trials on August 24, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Gage Workman bats ional team trials on August 24, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images) /

Gage Workman, one of the premier infielders in the 2020 MLB Draft, is a candidate to be taken with the Tigers’ second round selection.

Most of the attention on the MLB Draft among Tigers fans has been focused on the candidates for the first overall pick, and rightly so. Detroit’s top pick was hard-won by a season with nearly record-setting loss totals. The benefits of having the first pick extend beyond the first round, though, perched atop every round and granted a fat bonus pool with which to sign draftees. Despite the five-round draft format, those perks are still a starter pack for a great draft class.. Gage Workman is one of the players who could pique the Tigers’ interest after they’ve made their first selection.

Workman, a third baseman for Arizona State University, was drafted in the 14th round of the 2017 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, but he’ll be off the board long before then this time around. He’s slashed .306/.381/.500 in his college career, but scouts resonate with the feeling that even that  performance hadn’t reached his true talent level. He’s tall and strong, offering talent on the field and legitimate potential on both sides of the plate. He was projected to be drafted by the Tigers with their second pick in the 2020 draft by the Prospects Live team, so let’s take a look at what he has to offer.


If you ask his supporters, Workman is an athlete like no other in the Tigers’ farm system. Though he plays third base for ASU, it’s in deference to Alika Williams, a premium shortstop who has a strong chance to be taken in the first round. Pre-draft scouting reports on Workman sound very similar to those of eventual Tigers draftee Nick Quintana from the same point in his draft cycle, so we asked a pair of industry experts how they thought the two compared.

Ralph Lifshitz of Prospects Live didn’t hold back in his preference for Workman. “Better hitter, better defensive skills, ability to adjust mid-swing,” he said. “I think Quintana is grooved. There’s not much adjustment on pitches. Workman is a significantly better athlete too. Better runner. More raw power.”

Another source asked us not to reveal his identity, but we were very pleased to get his opinion. “Workman has a better body and is a better defender. He’s basically plus at 3B already. Quintana has or had a chance to be plus but wasn’t there yet. Workman has a better overall upside just on tools,” they said.

They offered up an opinion regarding his future role on an MLB club with a  comparison to Brandon Inge, followed up by this explanation: “Plus 3B defender with tools and juice but swing and miss keeps the bat from really being impact? Maybe a 2 WAR guy in his best years but consistently a nice 1-1.5 win guy? Think that’s who he is.”

If he never puts it together at the plate as a professional, it’s still easy to imagine Workman could develop into a utility guy in the bigs. That’s not what you’re looking for from a first or second round pick, but it’s certainly a better player than what many high picks become. He already packs a punch with his power swing and could feasibly post a Brandon Dixon-ish offensive numbers. The athleticism that everyone raves about makes it likely that he could develop at least passable ability at a number of positions in addition to his already sparkling work at the hot corner. Those components would make a very nice bench piece.


Workman’s biggest weakness his his sometimes absent ability to make contact with the ball. There were always going to be concerns, especially considering a strikeout rate that eclipsed 25 percent in all three of his years at ASU, but it may have appeared he had things under control after a breakout sophomore campaign saw him bat far a .330 average and walked at an 11 percent clip. Unfortunately, his numbers took a significant drop in 2020 gameplay, and although the sample size was small, it still raises red flags and he never got a chance to prove it was just a fluke.

The team that drafts Workman must also decide whether they want his to play third or short, a choice that will have implications on when he’ll arrive in the major leagues. We asked our anonymous source about Workman’s odds of sticking at short, and his response was telling. “Most think he’s got at least a decent shot to be [average] at SS, but almost why waste time with that?”

If Workman stays at third, he’ll get to the majors as soon as his bat can carry him there. If not, though, it becomes a longer-term proposition. His work at short isn’t as impressive as what can can do at the hot corner and he’s very large for the position, meaning his defense there will almost certainly need some smoothing out. In the end, if the team decides he can’t stick it out at short, all the precious developmental time working on his ability there goes down the toilet.

Draft Projection

Workman has the tools to be drafted very highly in this draft class, and unlike a lot of players with high-varience career outcomes, he still has a decent floor. And although he’d obviously be a fun addition to the somewhat lacking group of bats in Detroit’s farm, the Tigers aren’t exactly poised to draft him. “Workman at the Tigs 3rd pick would be a steal. 2nd pick might be rich but I wouldn’t hate it,” said our anonymous source. “They’ve seen him a lot because of Tork so it would be a logical landing spot but there’s no real indication [of interest].”

They went on to explain that the Tigers are expected to target a pair of college arms, a group that’s especially deep in this draft class. In fact, even after all the looks the Tigers front office got of the ASU squad to watch presumptive first overall draft pick Spencer Torkelson, there’s been nothing on whether they are eyeing the rest of the squad. Without a clear link between the two parties, it’s not an easy projection at the 38th pick that might otherwise make all the sense in the world.


Thanks to Ralph Lifshitz for talking the time to talk to us. Follow him on Twitter at @ProspectJesus and @ProspectsLive.