Detroit Tigers Prospects

Detroit Tigers Top 20 Prospects: #9 Colt Keith

Detroit Tigers prospect Colt Keith during 2020 instructional league play in Lakeland, Florida.
Detroit Tigers prospect Colt Keith during 2020 instructional league play in Lakeland, Florida. /
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We’re counting them down on the MCB Top 20 Detroit Tigers Prospects List like Casey Kasem spinnin’ “the Top 40 hits from coast to coast” in a bygone era of being glued to our radios.

As we continue the countdown of our top 20 prospects in the Detroit Tigers system, we look at our No. 9 ranked prospect, lefty swinging 3B Colt Keith. Keith has climbed the list steadily since being the Tigers sixth pick in the 5-round 2020 COVID Draft.

Just 20-years old heading into the 2022 season, Keith looks like a good bet to start the year at High-A West Michigan where he finished in 2021.

Check out the rest of our Top 20 list here.

Background

The 2019 Gatorade Mississippi High School Player of the Year, Keith was on MLB’s radar for sometime. Several clubs had interest in Keith (6’3”/220lb) as a pitcher due to his high velocity heater coupled with a solid slider.

It was the solid bat that drew the most attention from most clubs in Keith, however, Detroit among them. It seems the consensus in the draft world was Keith had a ticket punched to be an Arizona State Sun Devil unless he was taken by the second or third round with the money slotted in those areas.

The consensus, however, turned out wrong. As Keith told FanGraphs’ David Laurila, at the end of the day he just wasn’t excited to enroll in college. The Tigers called in the 5th round offering $500K to Keith’s reps and the young 3B accepted it to turn pro.

Keith’s decision was a definite boon to the Tigers draft class, which was already getting positive comments through four rounds of that truncated draft. Keith was an athletic lefty hitter that the Detroit Tigers system was definitely lacking after an elite prospect like Riley Greene.

Performance

Keith surprised some by his fast start in ‘21 at Lakeland once he got on the field after an injury. He busted out for the Flying Tigers with a solid slash of .320/.436/.422.

His ability to draw 30 walks in 177 plate appearances showed the possibility of a mature approach for someone so young seeing advanced competition for the first time. The home run power didn’t flourish yet, but the Tigers are likely encouraged enough to live with the old “power comes last” adage from scouts.

Encouraged enough that they sent Keith to High-A to wrap the season as a Whitecap where he logged 75 plate appearances. All in all, a rather successful pro debut for Keith.

Outlook

It’s all there in front of Colt Keith. He will be in High-A at age 20 with a chance to play his way to Double-A Erie by the time he turns 21 later in the season. Keith is in a system not loaded with lefty bats. The chance to rise fast is there if he can grab it.

Because of his arm strength from his mound days, Keith has the arm strength to stick at 3B but could also likely handle a corner outfield role if a shorter path in front of him to the majors open wide for him. Detroit’s outfield situation is murky and a promo to Erie in ‘22 with any kind of success attached would likely have Keith on AJ Hinch’s radar fairly soon.

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