Detroit Tigers: 3 prospects to watch in the College World Series Final
C Hayden Dunhurst, Ole Miss
The left-handed hitting Dunhurst was previously drafted in the 37th round in 2019 by the Colorado Rockies, but decided to attend Ole Miss instead. He has struggled with injuries and consistency at the plate throughout his college career, but is considered by many scouts to be a top tier defensive catcher.
This is exactly the type of catcher the Tigers have seemed to like over the years, taking Cooper Johnson in the sixth round in 2019 and trading for Jake Rogers as part of the infamous Justin Verlander trade in 2017.
Here’s what Law had to say about Dunhurst:
"“The big concern is that he was destroyed by decent velocity – not the typical guy who can hit a fastball but chases sliders down and away, but a guy pitchers could beat just with pure velocity. He could play a very long time in the minors thanks to his defensive skills, including a plus arm, but if he can’t hit velocity he won’t get past double A, and might be better served going back to Ole Miss to try to re-enter the draft off a better performance next year.”"
So we go from a guy who can’t hit breaking balls in Graham to a guy can’t catch up to fastballs in Dunhurst. If his defensive skills are as good as scouts say they are, then he’ll have no problem being drafted in the middle rounds and having a decent career in the minors. At worst, he’ll be good depth.
But if he can hit even just a little bit, much like Rogers has for the Detroit Tigers, he could easily make a major league roster some day. If the Tigers took a shot on him as a midround pick, it wouldn’t me much of a surprise given their history with catchers.
Dunhurst seems to fit the profile of what the Tigers want in a catcher: prioritizing defense with development still to come with the bat. Don’t be surprised if they take a chance on him.