Detroit Tigers MLB Draft Pick Review: The class of 2014

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 26: Spencer Turnbull #56 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 26, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 26: Spencer Turnbull #56 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 26, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

We review the Detroit Tigers draft class of 2014 and the impact on the 2021 roster today.

As Patrick Mahomes carries the Kansas City Chiefs to the Super Bowl, we were all reminded on Twitter that he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 37th round in the 2014 MLB Draft. Beyond that fun fact, there a few players who were drafted that are on the current 40-man roster and one who will be at spring training.

Chris Brown broke down General Manager Al Avila’s last five drafts so we got how the current roster is constructed with five players reaching the majors. This draft class was the last one under Dave Dombrowski and of this class, six have reached the majors. Let’s look back at this draft and why it is key to the 2021 roster.

First-round pick 23rd overall: Derek Hill

We finally saw the debut of Derek Hill last summer in limited duty towards the end of the season. Hill may start the season in Toledo in 2021 to get some regular at-bats as the Tigers outfield looks like it will be Robbie Grossman, JaCoby Jones, and Victor Reyes, or could be battling for a bench spot. We saw the glove on display in summer camp and he was reworking his swing in the minors for more power.

He projects as a fourth outfielder and is the 2nd outfielder to reach the majors from the 2014 class, joining Mike Gerber. A fact that stands out. Hill and Christin Stewart are the only Tigers outfielders drafted since 2014 who are on the 40-man roster.

Second-round pick 63rd overall: Spencer Turnbull

Turnbull so far represents the best pick for the Tigers in this draft. Ignore the 7-23 record as he has been a victim of bad run support. His stuff has been a topic of conversation including the concept of pitch design called Seam-Shifted Wake that Chris and Brandon Day of Bless You Boys have both discussed recently.

Thrid-round pick 99th pick overall: Grayson Greiner

Greiner looks to be the backup catcher heading into the season.

Eight-round pick 250th overall: Artie Lewicki

Lewicki, who was picked up off waivers from Arizona, will be pitching in Korea this season for the SK Wyverns. He was released by the Diamondbacks back in the fall.

That name sounds familiar

The Tigers brought back A.J Ladwig (drafted in the 8th round) and Locke St. John (drafted in the 32nd round). Ladwig and St. John will provide minor league depth.

Why is this such an important draft?

Turnbull joins Drew Smyly as the second pitcher drafted in the 2nd round that turned out to be a contributor to the rotation in the David Dombrowski era. Detroit was continuing to find impactable value past the first round in pitching, which was lacking for quite some time.

Detroit’s history of drafting pitchers past the first round that worked out is limited and it was good to see progress with Tyler Alexander (2nd round, 2015) Tarik Skubal off to a good start. (9th round,2018 ) Two June drafts produced pitchers that provided a visible impact past the first round.

1976: 4th Dan Petry and 5th Jack Morris

1984: 4th Mike Henneman

What is interesting is the number of players that are still with the Tigers compared to other teams. Compared that to their other division rivals.

  • Chicago: 2
  • Cleveland:  2 (Justus Sheffield, drafted in the first round, traded for Andrew Miller)
  • Kansas City: 2 (Brandon Finnegan drafted in the first round, traded for Johnny Cueto)
  • Minnesota: 0

I highlighted those two players because those trades helped both teams get better with Cueto helping the Royals win the World Series in 2015. Turnbull could get something back in return if Detroit wanted to trade him but we shall see if that happens in 2021.