Resting atop the MCB Detroit Tigers top prospect list is 2B/3B Colt Keith
It's no secret the Detroit Tigers farm system is entering a new era. Within the span of two years, Matt Manning, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Riley Greene, and Spencer Torkelson have all graduated and thus the organization has emptied their blue-chip cupboard on the farm. High-end draft picks Jackson Jobe and Jace Jung are the favorites to lead the next wave, but what if it's actually a high school fifth-rounder in the shortened 2020 format that leads the next youth wave in the minors?
Colten Keith was taken in the last round of the 2020 draft by the Detroit Tigers out of Biloxi High School in Biloxi, MS--a small town on the gulf shore known for its casino nightlife and marine commerce. Since there was no 2020 minor league season, Keith's career began in 2021 and he flew through the minor leagues. After a couple of Florida Complex League appearances, Keith spent most of his season in Lakeland with the Flying Tigers, where all he did was hit .320/.437/.422 in a pitcher-friendly league.
That performance earned him a call-up to West Michigan as a 19-year-old, where the results weren't as promising: .162/.250/.250 across just 18 games. But Keith would repeat at West Michigan in 2022 and pick up right where he left off. In 48 games interrupted by a lengthy IL stint, Keith hit .301/.370/.544 for the Whitecaps--the most notable development being Keith's added muscle and subsequent power in 2022.
He's listed at 6'3 211 lbs now and appears to be every bit of both markers. That added weight and added thump prompted some time at third base for Keith before spending the majority of his time in the Arizona Fall League at third base, where he continued to rake: .344/.463./.541 with three home runs in just 19 games--which would put his 162-game pace around 25 homers against some of the better and older prospects in the game.
Good friend James Chipman was among the first to hop on the Colt Keith hype train, thanks partly to his looks down in Lakeland in 2021. He noted an innate ability to barrel the ball and spray line drives all over the field. Defensively, Chipman felt Keith was athletic enough to handle second base despite his size at a position typically not conducive to big bodies--it should be noted this was before Keith decided to add significant mass, though.
Keith is not yet a household name in part because he's yet to play a full season in the minor leagues. However, he's likely to start the season and play the majority of the year in Double-A Erie. If Keith continues to do damage in the hitter-friendly UPMC Park, he'll be shooting up prospect boards and will likely cement his status on top 100 lists come summer.
Keith's combination of hitting ability at a premium defensive position while always performing at a considerably advanced level for his age makes him the top prospect in the organization. Interestingly, Keith only cracked ESPN's top 100 rankings ($)--and based on where they have Keith (75), he would be the Tigers' top prospect there as well. Our good friends at Tigers Minor League Report also have Keith as their top prospect. While he isn't getting the same love at MLB.com and The Athletic, we're convicted enough to have Colt Keith as our top prospect in the Detroit Tigers system.