Detroit Tigers Weekly Draft Update: The Top 5

Vanderbilt's Jack Leiter, left, and Kumar Rocker could be the first two pitchers selected in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Vanderbilt's Jack Leiter, left, and Kumar Rocker could be the first two pitchers selected in the 2021 MLB Draft. /

The Detroit Tigers “Weekly” Draft Report returns after an extended absence , this time with a more focused approach to the 2021 Draft.

Up to this point we’ve been offering updates on top performers in college baseball, but today we are going to focus strictly on who the Detroit Tigers might take with the number three pick. As of right now there are five players who seem to have separated themself in this draft class.

Beginning next week we’ll look at position groups one by one to help keep you informed of interesting players the Detroit Tigers might take in later rounds. You can also read our earlier updates here: College Preview, High School Preview, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4&5, Week 6, Week 7

Detroit Tigers Number 1 Draft Prospect – Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt

Season Stats

It’s hard to envision Jack Leiter being available for the Detroit Tigers at the third pick, but we’re doing draft PFP and covering our bases here. Leiter has been the most dominant pitcher in college baseball all year, at one point going 20+ innings without allowing a hit. He owns an electric fastball that gets swings-and-misses in the zone and three quality secondary pitchers that show above-average potential.

A pitcher’s size and frame don’t matter nearly as much as they once did, but if Leiter does fall to the Tigers it will likely be because his stuff faltered late in the season. Leiter is coming off his first tough start of the year, though as Kevin Goldstein at FanGraphs notes here, his relative struggles told scouts far more about him than his dominant outings.

Detroit Tigers Number 2 Draft Prospect – Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit (TX)

Season Stats

Jordan Lawlar spent last summer looking like the best all-around talent in this year’s prep class, and though he had some strikeout issues early in his HS season, he still seems to be holding onto his rank as the top high-school prospect. He combines an advanced feel for hitting with above-average power potential, plus speed, and the hands and arm to stick at shortstop. Apart from the strikeouts, the only negative sometimes mentioned with Lawlar is that he’ll turn 19 a few weeks before the draft, which is considered a bit old for a high-schooler.

Detroit Tigers Number 3 Draft Prospect – Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake (CA)

Season Stats

Four months ago we wrote a story about the next Detroit Tigers award winners in which we predicted Marcelo Mayer would win a Gold Glove award for the Tigers in 2026. Our prediction was based on a very tenuous connection — Al Avila once helped draft Adrián González from the same high school — but Mayer to the Tigers has become increasingly possible.

Detroit has been linked to the young shortstop whose advanced feel for hitting from the left side is vaguely reminiscent of Riley Greene. Mayer doesn’t boast Greene’s power potential, but he still has plenty of room to grow, and he’s a smooth defender with good hands and a plus arm. There’s a chance Mayer fills out too much and has to move to third base, but that added bulk would likely come with a similar jump in power production.

Detroit Tigers Number 4 Draft Prospect – Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt

Season Stats

For all the talk of the Detroit Tigers taking one of the prep shortstops, it still seems hard to picture them passing on Kumar Rocker, who will likely be there for them. The most famous name heading into this season, Rocker has been outstanding this year. After a few starts with diminished velocity, Rocker found his mid-90s heater and returned to his dominant ways last weekend against Tennessee. His slider is consistently a plus offering for him, and he has developed a cutter this year that shows above-average potential.

Rocker has the frame and demeanor of a workhorse starter, but he has slipped slightly this year because scouts worry about his ability to miss bats in the zone. The common refrain is he gets most of his strikeouts on fastballs above the zone and sliders out of the zone to his glove side. He hasn’t shown much growth with his changeup either, but that should be mitigated slightly by his new cutter. For now Rocker seems most likely to get drafted in the 3-5 range, but it’s entirely possible he pitches his way back into the top 2 picks.

Detroit Tigers Number 5 Draft Prospect – Henry Davis, C, Louisville

Season Stats

Henry Davis very quickly moved into the top 10 this season, and he has only continued to climb thanks to a mix of outstanding performance and above-average skills. There’s a bit of a lumberjack feel to Davis in the batter’s box, but he shows terrific hand-eye coordination, above-average plate discipline, the bat speed to catch up to top-end velocity, and above-average power potential. He’s even a decent runner for a catcher. There are some questions about his blocking and receiving, but that may not be as relevant in a future with automated strike zones. On the other hand, throwing will be more important in a robot ump world, and Davis has an absolute cannon.

Next week we’ll look at the rest of this year’s unusually strong group of catchers.