If you were to hear that the Tigers drafted a pitcher with their first pick, what type of player would you imagine? A hard-throwing righty with a power slider, struggling offspeed pitches, and no control, right? I don't blame you; that's what I'd picture too.
That reputation is well deserved after taking pitchers like Spencer Turnbull with their high-round picks and choosing to sign pitchers like Jose Valdez, Gerson Moreno, Sandy Baez, and Bruce Rondon. That probably will not change, as David Chadd, the scouting director under Dombrowski, is still on the Tigers payroll. However, taking Tyler Alexander with the second pick in 2015 might indicate a change is in the wings. If that is the case, Braxton Garrett may be the name that is read at ninth overall come the draft, and he would be a good addition to the Tigers' system for sure.
So, what makes him so different? Well, in a word, everything.
His arsenal is quite advanced for a high schooler. It features a fastball with late life, a curveball with nasty bite, and a changeup which needs work, but shows promise. In most scouting reports, it is the curveball that gets the majority of the praise. Experts from MLB.com, ESPN, and Fueled By Sports are saying things like:
Garrett spins one of the best curveballs among high schoolers in the 2016 Draft class, a 76-80 mph bender with good depth.
This spring, Garrett has been ... showing the best present curveball of any prep lefty not named Jason Groome. The curve is a true 12-6 hammer with sharp break and good depth and is consistently average now -- with a chance to be plus.
Garrett’s curveball has the potential to be nasty.
While his curve may get the majority of the attention, his fastball is also pretty good. It sits from 91-94 and features good, late-sinking life. His changeup figures to be a hair above average, but is kind of a work in progress and can run into his fastball at times, losing life and gaining velocity when it's not on.
Garrett pitches with smooth mechanics and is a very polished pitcher for his age. He throws from a 3/4 angle and has a fluid, repeatable delivery that allows his loose left arm to fire off pitches with ease. His angle also gives his fastball a good bit of deception. Another good thing about his mechanics is that unlike with other, harder throwers, such as Riley Pint, whose delivery is quite violent and at times shakes his entire body, Garrett comes with a much lowered risk of injury. It also bestows him with plus control and command of all three of his offerings.
The most remarkable thing about the high school lefty, other than his curve, of course, is his incredibly high floor and polish, which would be high even for a college player. In fact, Garrett is so polished that Jason Marbach of Crawfish Boxes was moved to write this glowing review:
At bare minimum, he looks like he could compete in Double-A today as a LOOGY. A long-term floor as a back end starter seems reasonable, given how many boxes he checks and how polished he looks already. His is considered a noticeably higher floor than most high school prospects.
Don't be fooled into thinking that this high floor automatically means he dosn't have a high ceiling as well, because that would be dead wrong. We go back to Crawfish Boxes for our appraisal of what his ceiling really is:
This is a top of the rotation lefty with concrete number two potential in a Major League rotation one day.
We don't need another reason to like Garrett, but we have one: he has a fantastic pickoff move. In his junior year, he racked up 31 pickoffs to only 12 steals.
The Marlins are said to be highly interested in Garrett and have the No. 7 overall pick, two ahead of where the Tigers have their first selection.
In conclusion, while it's true that to hear that the Tigers selected Garrett come Thursday would be a surprise -- a shock really -- it would be a nice one. Who knows, maybe a deviation from the norm would be good.