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Minor League Matters: Mock Draft Recap + Predictions

As most of you may know, I ran the Detroit Tigers in the John Sickels Mock Draft over at Minor League Ball. The draft was held on Saturday and went 3 rounds deep. The real draft goes 50, so it's not an exact replica, and players seldom drop on the basis of high bonus demands, but overall it's a good experience that readies you for the draft. I'd like to recap the picks I made in that draft and then offer some predictions on what the Tigers will do.

The Sickels Draft (and commentary)

#44: Tigers select Jedd Gyorko, SS, West Virginia

#48: Tigers select Kevin Gausman, RHP, CO HS

#68: Tigers select DeAndre Smelter, RHP, GA HS

#100: Tigers select Todd Cunningham, CF, Jacksonville St.

Draft summary: get the offensive help we need quickly and then spend a couple picks on some projectable young arms.

So I went into the draft looking for a player to drop at #44. There really wasn't one that did- I was 5 picks away from Zach Lee dropping (he's a prep righthander with great mechanics and 2 plus pitches) and 6 away from Yordy Cabrera (a possible impact bat who looks like he's going in the first now). The best player left on my board at 44 was Jedd Gyorko of West Virginia. He won't be an impact player, and he won't stick at shortstop, but he'll be a great third baseman. He projects to hit for average with lots of doubles and only a few (15-20) homers, but his defense should be passable and he'll represent an offensive improvement over Brandon Inge.

I wanted to spend the next pick on a pitcher since the draft is crazy rich on right handed starters (especially prep pitchers) and I opted for the high ceiling Kevin Gausman, who has 5 potentially plus or above average pitches. That includes a power 4-seam fastball in the mid 90's, a 2-seam with tailing action that sits 89-92 (which draws the groundball), a curve that projects to be above average, a slider that projects to be at least average and a changeup that could also land up being average. He'd be great to slide into the rotation, but he'll take a long time to develop.

My third pick was in the second round, and I really wanted third baseman Garin Cecchini (more on him later). But the Jays picked him 7 picks before me, and the only player I was really enamored with at this slot was DeAndre Smelter, another prep right-hander. I wanted a second bat, but Smelter's athleticism and plus fastball combined with a potential plus splitter and potential plus slider was too nice to pass up. He's another guy who will take a while to develop, but he has ace to second-starter potential. In the second round, that's awesome.

The fourth pick was supposed to be a prep infielder (ask DetroitTigersGeek- I wanted one badly). I wanted Jacoby Jones more than anything, but I lost out on him to the White Sox, and the other infielders I wanted left the board quickly too. So I had to ask for a couple seconds to think. I landed up picking college outfielder Todd Cunningham, who projects to be an average center fielder or plus left fielder with a solid hit tool and average power. Not the most inspired choice, but a solid guy with a little upside who should be able to help Detroit quickly.

Overall, I'm happy. I was disappointed on draft day since I didn't get the prep infielder I wanted, but the polish of the college hitters combined with some serious pitching upside makes me happy. We've drafted the heir apparent to Brandon Inge with Gyorko, as well as a potential Johnny Damon-lite in Cunningham as well as some more pitching just in case Turner or Crosby don't pan out. It's also reasonably priced- Gyorko should sign at slot, and Cunningham won't cost too terribly much. The pitchers will be more expensive, but definitely affordable.

Do I think this draft is likely for the Tigers? Not really. However, I do have a few predictions for what I think the real Tigers will do.

  • Look for us to grab players that fall out of the first round. Guys like Tyrell Jenkins (prep pitcher), Zach Lee (another prep pitcher), Zack Cox (really good college 3B) and Yordy Cabrera (high school shortstop) could potentially fall to us, though I wouldn't bet much on that happening. If a player does drop though, know that Detroit will be there to give them a really nice bonus.
  • The drat budget won't be as high as last year's 9.1 million dollars, but expect Mr. Illich and Dave Dombrowski to spend a good chunk of change- Dombrowski seems to be committed to the task of rebuilding the farm, and a solid draft with tons of overslot bonuses not only accomplishes that goal, but it ticks off Bud Selig (payback for Armando, you jerk).
  • I won't commit to any names except for one: Garin Cecchini. He's a prep third-baseman who had first-round potential... until he hurt his knee. There's a very good chance he'll be available at the supplemental, and Andy Seiler says that the Tigers have been linked to him. Still, there's about a 10% chance we actually draft him.
  • As much as we may need bats, don't expect a ton. The draft is heavy on right-handed pitching, especially starters, so we'll probably grab more than our fair share of starters with top-10 picks. I will say that I'm projecting that at least one of the supplemental picks will be on a bat, so there's some hope.
  • Also, don't expect college relievers. The only relief pitcher I can see Detroit drafting is Stetson Allie, who may have potential in the rotation. The problem is that the bullpens in both Erie and Toledo are stocked with relievers, so there's no place to put these guys. I know Chadd'll surprise me and draft at least one, but it probably won't be in the first 10 rounds.
  • Finally, don't get your hopes up for a stud third base prospect. Smart draft directors (and Chadd is one) will always go for the best player available and signable, which is what you want. It may be that the best players are right-handed pitchers- if that's the case, expect some more pitching.