The Detroit Tigers have the 12th pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.
Draft Month continues at Motor City Bengals, where we get you prepared for what the Detroit Tigers might do at the top of this year’s draft. You can check out our brief overview of this year’s draft here.
The draft is still more than a month away, so our early focus is on the best players in the class. Most don’t figure to be available when the Tigers pick, but we just want to be thorough. As such, today we look at the consensus top player in the draft, high school outfielder Druw Jones, from the Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners, Georgia.
Druw Jones Background
Like many prospects in this draft, Druw Jones is the son of a former professional athlete. His father is Andruw Jones, who spent a decade as one of the best players in baseball. Having a high-profile father earned Jones some early notice, but he was considered an interesting prospect in his own right, going all the way back to before his freshman year in high school.
He was considered a highly projectible athlete with a broad base of skills, and because of that high-level potential he he committed to play college baseball at Vanderbilt in 2019. Druw Jones continued to grow into his body, and his performance in national events steadily improved.
He entered the 2021 summer showcase as one of the top prospects in the class, but after his performances there, and impressive looks early in the 2022 season, he climbed to the top of nearly every public draft board.
Jones earned the Gatorade Player of the Year Award in Georgia this year with some awfully impressive stats:
"Jones batted .570 with 13 home runs and 39 RBI, amassing an OPS of 1.702 and hitting safely in every game he played this season. He scored 72 runs, swiped 32 bases and drew 33 walks, also posting a 10-1 record on the mound with 53 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched."
Druw Jones Strengths
Scouts are particularly intrigued by Jones because he offers an extremely high ceiling while also maintaining a high floor. His current skills are impressive. He’s an excellent defender in center field, with terrific instincts, and a strong arm, and double-plus speed to track down balls in the gap. Some scouts think with his first-step quickness, soft hands, and strong arm, he could even stick at shortstop in pro ball. Jones is an above-average baserunner, and he shows a disciplined approach at the plate, good bat-to-ball skills, and above-average raw power.
All of that would be enough to get a player drafted in the top ten, but what sets Jones apart from his peers is how much more room he has to grow. He’s currently 6’3 or 6’4 and about 185 lbs., which leads to a lot of dreaming about what he could be in his prime. It’s natural to compare him to his father, but Druw is taller and lankier. There aren’t any great comps for Jones, but his current size and skills conjure images of Byron Buxton and B.J. Upton.
Druw Jones Weaknesses
The only real worry with Druw Jones is his hitting ability. And with Jones it isn’t a matter of contact or strikeouts, as is the case with Elijah Green, but more about quality of contact. FanGraphs does a great job of elucidating those concerns, at least before the 2022 season:
"Offensively, Jones’ swing causes some consternation because it currently has him totally unable to pull the ball during games. He works back through the box and to the right/center gap. His ability to impact the ball with power in that direction is impressive, but that Jones can only do that is a bit of a concern."
Jones has apparently quelled some of those worries this spring, but his hitting approach could prevent him offering much more than average in-game power production.
Does Druw Jones Fit the Detroit Tigers?
Absolutely. Even if he’s more Austin Jackson than Curtis Granderson, Druw Jones has the potential to be a spectacular big-league player. Unfortunately, there is zero chance he falls to the Tigers, and it will be shocking if Jones isn’t selected in the top three.