Detroit Tigers Weekly Draft Update: Rock and Rhodes

Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker throws in the bottom of the first inning against Michigan.
Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker throws in the bottom of the first inning against Michigan. /

The 2021 MLB Draft is still four months away, but college baseball is in full swing, so it’s time to begin our weekly updates to keep Detroit Tigers fans informed.

Be sure to check out our college and high school previews, as things are really starting to ramp up in the amateur baseball world. The Big Ten begins conference play this weekend, and one of the biggest high-school baseball tournaments of the year is underway in Alabama. There’s no doubt Detroit Tigers scouts are paying close attention to both.

But for now we’ll focus on last week, when we saw the first no-hitter of the college season, while many of the top hitters continued to struggle.

Note: Does not include results from Friday, March 5th.

Detroit Tigers College Pitching Draft Targets

Season Totals

Kumar Rocker – (5IP, 3H, 0R, 3BB, 6K) – Pretty standard Kumar Rocker stuff, showing a mid-90s fastball, a slider Georgia State hitters couldn’t touch, and an iffy relationship with the strike zone.

Jack Leiter – (5IP, 3H, 0R, 4BB, 7K) – The poor Georgia State batters had to face Rocker and Leiter in the same day, and though Leiter also had some command issues, it didn’t seem to matter.

Jaden Hill – (6IP, H, 0ER, 0BB, 4K) – Hill still needs to prove he can handle the rigors of starting for a full season, and his strikeout numbers are pedestrian right now, but he’s throwing tons of strikes and his stuff remains nasty.

Ty Madden – (7IP, H, 0ER, BB, 11K) – Madden shook off a tough first outing with a dominant performance against a decent BYU club, touching 98 MPH and setting a career high for strikeouts.

Richard Fitts – (4.1IP, 9H, 6ER, 0BB, 2K) – Fitts just didn’t have it last Saturday, getting knocked around by a quality Baylor club. He hit 96 MPH and flashed a plus slider, but his command wavered and the Bears pounced on him once they turned over their lineup.

Gunnar Hoglund – (7IP, 6H, 2ER, 0BB, 10K) – Hoglund was terrific against a feisty Central Florida team, sitting in the low-90s and showing a tight slider while characteristically pounding the zone.

We’ve discussed most of the top overall arms in the draft, but now let’s take a look at some of the best southpaws available this year:

Season Totals

Jordan Wicks – (6IP, 6H, 4ER, BB, 10K) – Wicks got touched up a bit by a game Western Michigan squad, but he continued to attack the strike zone and flash his outstanding changeup.

Joe Rock – (7IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 6K) – Rock was the story of the week, earning a 7-inning no-hitter over Morehead St. and continuing to show an interesting low-90s fastball and tough slider from a lower arm slot.

Christian MacLeod – (4IP, 3H, 3R, 0ER, 2BB, 6K) – MacLeod took the loss against Tulane, but he showed solid command of an average fastball and a potential plus changeup.

Jonathan Childress – (6IP, 4H, ER, 3BB, 4K) – Childress took a tough-luck loss against Auburn last Sunday, but he’s a sturdy southpaw with a fastball that can touch 94 and a potential plus breaking ball.

Steven Hajjar – Hajjar may end up being the top lefty in this class thanks to his size and solid three-pitch mix, but he has a limited track record, with just 20 career innings at the collegiate level, though he did look good against Spencer Torkelson last season. His former pitcher coach Chris Fetter now works for the Detroit Tigers, so he could be an interesting choice in the 2nd round.

Seth LonswayDillon Dingler’s old battery mate, Lonsway was draft-eligible last year and showed nasty stuff at times — 42 strikeouts in 18 innings — but he also walked a batter an inning. He’s probably a reliever in pro ball.

Detroit Tigers College Infield Draft Targets

Season Totals

Adrian Del Castillo – (5-for12, BB, 2K, 2R, RBI) – Castillo hasn’t found his power swing yet, but he’s been hitting well. He’ll need to start showing that pop to be a legitimate option for the Detroit Tigers at pick three.

Matt McLain – (1-for-12, 6BB, 2K, 2R, RBI, SB) – McLain struggled to get hits last week, but he continued to find ways to get on base.

Alex Binelas – (1-for-18, 2B, 2BB, 3KR, RBI) – Binelas’ brutal start to the season continued last week, and he split time between third base and first base.

Henry Davis – (5-for-15, 2B, 4BB, 1K, 2R, 2RBI, 2SB) – Davis has been the opposite of Binelas, hitting everything and showing surprising speed.

Cody Morissette – (3-for-15, 4BB, 3K, 2R, RBI) – Morissette continues to find his way on base, but the hits still aren’t falling for him.

Wes Clarke – (4-for-12, 2HR, 4BB, 5K, 4R, 5 RBI) – Clark couldn’t hit .700 forever, but he continued to mash with his 3rd multi-homer game of the season. He now has 16 home runs in his last 81 at-bats.

Kyle Manzardo – (6-for-14, 2B, 3HR, 2BB, 2K, 6R, 11 RBI) – He was a Manzardo among boys last week, welcoming Dixie State to Division I baseball by putting up monster numbers for the Cougars.

Niko Kavadas – (4-for-12, 2HR, 3BB, 5K, 5R, 5 RBI) – Notre Dame began their season last weekend, and Kavadas kicked his off with style, hitting two home runs against potential first-rounder Ryan Cusick.

Detroit Tigers College Outfield Draft Targets

Season Totals

Jud Fabian – (4-for-15, 2HR, 3BB, 5K, 5R, 6RBI, CS) – Fabian continues to have issues with strikeouts, but he’s doing damage when he makes contact.

Sal Frelick – (9-for-17, 3 2B, HR, 2K, 5R, 5RBI, SB, CS) – Sal Frelick was terrific last week, and he’s a good bet to be a Golden Spikes finalist this year.

Colton Cowser – (5-for-15, 3B, 3BB, 5K, 4R, SB) – Sam Houston has had issues getting on the field, but Cowser is off to a solid start in his first five games.

Ethan Wilson – (3-for-15, 3BB, 5K, 2R,RBI) – Wilson was slowed by an injury to begin the year, and he had a rough weekend series against Oral Roberts, but he reached base 4 times against New Orleans on Wednesday.

John Rhodes – (6-for-15, 4 2B, 2HR, 5BB, 3K, 7R, 6RBI, SB) – Kentucky is another school that had a tough time getting going, but that didn’t stop Rhodes, who absolutely stuffed the stat sheet. He’s got a chance to climb into the first round if he performs like this in the SEC.

Levi Usher – (3-for-16, BB, 7K, 3R, 2RBI, 3SB) – Usher had a rough week in terms of swings and misses, but he still managed to cause some havoc on the bases and score runs.

Christian Franklin – (5-for-13, 2HR, 3K, 4R, 4RBI, 2SB) – Christian Franklin still isn’t showing much plate discipline, but he’s definitely making an impact on offense for the Razorbacks.

Justice Thompson – (3-for-6, 2B, 2BB, K, 3R, SB) – North Carolina had a light week, and Thompson’s batting average went down despite hitting .500. He remains a very interesting outfielder to watch as ACC play continues.