Detroit Tigers draft board: 4 sneaky good pitching prospects in the draft class
By Tyler Kotila
Detroit Tigers may try to woo Aidan Knaak away from Clemson.
The Detroit Tigers may not be grabbing many prep arms early on, but they should consider Aidan Knaak from the Florida prep scene. Knaak pitches for Bishop Verot HS in Southwestern Florida and has some of the best stuff in the state.
Knaak is committed to playing at the next level as a part of the Clemson Tigers, but the Detroit Tigers should try and swoop in and sign the right-handed prep arm. He may not be the most sign-able arm in the class, but he is someone the Tigers could certainly project on for the future.
Knaak is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-hander with a projectable frame that should keep developing at the next level. It's an athletic look with great movement on the mound. He has good control and moves down the mound with a smooth delivery out of the wind-up and the stretch.
He works 90-93 mph on the fastball with good carry to it, being a problem for the opposition this spring. The pitch plays well at the prep level, though I do think it could get hit as he gets started into pro ball. I'd like to see that velocity climb a little bit, which I believe is in the tank, which speaks to the projection on him.
He shows a changeup that works the upper-70s and into the low-80s with a high-spin profile, being a non-traditional look. It's a plus-pitch now that would play at an above-average level in a pro organization right now. Making sure we're crystal clear here, that's not to say he has an MLB-ready changeup that could play on the mound for the Tigers, but it could give affiliate-ball hitters fits.
The pitch has a ton of depth to it; he can let it rip, and it's a problem for the opposing teams. He has a feel for more of an over-the-top 12-6 or 11-5 shaped breaking ball that has hammer depth/shape to it, working the low-70s. He'll also show it with a more lateral shape in the upper-70s, more of a slider shape to it.
Here's another look at Knaak, this time in an overlay from another one of his starts from this spring that I got to see. Another dominant outing at the prep level, two overlays showing the FB/CH tunnel and the FB/BB tunnel.
The selling point here is the changeup and the pitchability. He mixes pitches, attacks hitters right out of the gate, and commands the zone. He's not going to give up hard contact. Sure, he'll give up a knock here and there, but he's only given up a couple of truly hard-hit balls the entire spring over several outings I've seen him.
In one of his outings, he punched out 15 over a complete-game seven-inning outing. Allowed only three baserunners, with only one ball in play in the air. It's a really intriguing profile to consider, and while he's also someone who could very well end up on campus looking to show growth, there's a lot to like & project on here.
Knaak is someone the Tigers should consider. It's worth considering if the signability is not too big of a concern. Time will tell, but he's someone Tigers fans should know about.