It’s no surprise: Detroit Tigers General Manager Al Avila did not do what you wanted in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft.
The Detroit Tigers selected right-hander Jackson Jobe with the third pick in the first round, and to the disbelief of many fans, left shortstop and top prospect Marcelo Mayer up for grabs.
As with any movement in the Tigers organization, fans did not miss a beat and an influx of bewildered comments on social media left many questioning and downright fuming about the choice the front office made.
As a Tigers fan, I get it.
But Jobe offers unique value to the team, and while we may not see him debut at the major league level for at least two to three years, he is interestingly worth keeping tabs on.
Co-expert Chris Brown cited something that sparked my curiosity:
"“Jackson Jobe was still considered a potential two-way player or shortstop prospect as recently as May of 2020.”"
So, what exactly is a “two-way player?”
As per MLB, a position player must have “pitched at least 20 Major League innings AND played at least 20 games as a position player or designated hitter, with three plate appearances in each game, in either the current or previous MLB season.”
When I think of two-way players, I am immediately drawn to the days of Babe Ruth, or more recently, Los Angeles Angels RHP and DH Shohei Ohtani.
It’s time to put the “pitchers can’t hit” saga to rest.
Ohtani has proven, repeatedly, that pitchers can in fact hit and has stunned the baseball community with a 3.49 ERA and a slash line of .279/.364/.698.
I am not here to flood you with searchable stats regarding Jobe and the notable tools he brings to the field, nor am I comparing the skillset between Ohtani and Jobe.
But if we take a look at some numbers from Prep Baseball Report, they are nothing short of exciting.
As a former football quarterback at Heritage Hall, not only does Jobe have the mechanics to impress as a pitcher, he is hungry to compete and truly encompasses what it means to be an all-around athlete willing to succeed.
Could it be possible that the traditional way of draft picks is over?
Sure, the easier and safer pick would have been to draft Mayer over the risky high-school hurler.
But bringing in rare talent to the Tigers, and to baseball in general, is long overdue.
Is it also possible that the future of major league baseball is moving more towards a refreshed era of two-way players?
It is no secret that MLB struggles to bring in fresh and young fans to the game, as traditional rules, unwritten rules and baseball blackouts are a valid cause for concern.
Two-way players could potentially be the future of baseball and the ticket to making the game even more exciting for budding baseball fans.
Let’s put it into perspective.
With a shortened 2020 season and COVID-19 affecting the 2021 season, the two-way player rule was not officially in play. Interestingly, the universal designated hitter rule was also tabled, but could theoretically be revived for the 2022 season, pending collective agreement bargaining.
That’s what makes the Jobe pick increasingly attractive.
Ohtani has demonstrated that two-way players add substantial upside to organizations, and if you are anything like Ben Verlander, it brings a whole new level of thrill to baseball fans to see players be so skilled at the craft that they can play any position.
The risk to draft Jobe was great and I don’t have inside reports as to the logistics of why Avila and the front office chose him.
At this point, why not Jobe?
If two-way players are the future of baseball, the Tigers hit the jackpot with this one.