For the first time since 2017, the Detroit Tigers are picking outside of the top ten in the MLB Draft.
We first took a stab at projecting the top of this class way back in July, shortly after the 2021 draft concluded, and last week we checked in on how the college class was looking after summer performances in the Cape Cod League and the Collegiate National Team.
Today we’re going to focus on the high-school class. We know the Detroit Tigers will pick 12th in the 2022 MLB Draft, and the club has never been shy about taking prep players with their top pick. They did it just last year with Jackson Jobe.
Fans like to talk about timelines — how a college player could help the Detroit Tigers sooner — but the most important thing is to just get the pick right. Look no further than the 2019 draft, when the Miami Marlins used the 4th overall pick on college outfielder JJ Bleday, and the Tigers used the 5th pick on high-school outfielder Riley Greene.
Last year the 23-year-old Bleday struggled to hit his weight in Double-A (.212/.323/.373) while the 20-year-old Greene cruised through the level and posted a .954 OPS at Triple-A. Greene is a consensus top-ten prospect in baseball, while Bleday is nowhere to be found on top-100 lists.
So who might be available for the Detroit Tigers at pick 12? Let’s start with the arms.
Detroit Tigers 2022 MLB Draft Options – High School RHP
High-school pitchers are always risky, but this year’s crop looks like one of the deepest and most talented groups in recent history. There doesn’t seem to be much debate about the top prep arm in the class, though, as Dylan Lesko has been on the radar for years and he continues to get better. His fastball frequently hits the mid-90s, while his nasty changeup may be the best in the class. Lesko’s curve is a bit inconsistent, but it shows plus spin rates, and he’s got the athleticism to pound the strike zone and the size to throw even harder.
Michigan’s own Brock Porter offers a similar profile to Lesko, though he currently throws harder and his changeup features more velocity separation. He needs to refine his breaking balls, but he throws plenty of strikes and should remain a starter. There are no questions about Andrew Dutkanych’s breaking stuff, as he might have the best slider in the prep class. It’s a sharp breaker in the upper-80s, and he also throws a fastball that has touched 97 MPH, along with a curve and a changeup that both have average potential.
Walter Ford reclassified from 2023 and is now one of the youngest members of the draft class. His stuff is plenty mature, though, with a heater than can reach the upper 90s, a promising slider, and a starter’s delivery. He could climb boards as scouts begin the bear down on him more this spring. Ian Ritchie doesn’t stand out with any one aspect of his arsenal, but there’s bit of a Jack Leiter starter kit here. He isn’t the biggest or most projectable pitcher, but he has a very quick arm, he shows four pitches that could be average or better, and he pounds the strike zone.
Our final two names aren’t projected as first rounders at the moment, but they deserve mention simply for owning some freakish stuff. Nazier Mule is one of the younger players in the class and he’s very raw, but he’s a legitimate prospect as both a pitcher and a shortstop. On the mound he frequently hits the upper 90s, and he’s shown flashes of a plus slider and changeup, though he doesn’t have much feel for pitching yet. And Austin Henry is this year’s spin monster, with breaking ball spin rates in excess of 3,300 RPM. He’s big and strong, but right now his fastball only reaches the low-90s, and he hasn’t shown much of a third pitch, so he may be better off heading to college.