Given the draft history of the Detroit Tigers, it is not surprising that many mock drafts have connected them to power arms for their first selection in the 2017 MLB Draft. There are a plethora of pitchers to pick from, and it is likely that one or two of them will be available for the Tigers at No. 18 if they decide to go in that direction.
However, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com released his own mock draft on Wednesday and had the Tigers looking in a different area. Mayo had first baseman Nick Pratto landing in Detroit, offering a short blurb with his rationale:
This could be the first spot Pearson leaps up to, given the Tigers' past penchant for arm strength. Missouri's Tanner Houck could fit as well, but if they go bat, Pratto's is one of the best in the class.
As Mayo alludes, the Tigers very well may follow their pattern of selecting power pitchers, and Nate Pearson and Tanner Houck fit this mold. Both players are currently in college, and May slots them at No. 19 and No. 23 in his mock.
Nevertheless, it is Pratto who finds himself with the Tigers in this scenario. The 6’1”, 195lb lefty is a high-school talent with a lot of promise. Mayo had him as the second pure first baseman off the board, and by many rankings this may be a steal for the Tigers.
Fangraphs is very complementary of Pratto, noting his quick bat speed, advanced eye at the plate, and above-average defensive ability:
Pratto has arguably the best hitter's traits in the entire draft. His bat is quick, he can move the barrel around and square pitches in various parts of the strike zone, he generates good extension through contact and has already started to grow into the power necessary to profile at firts base. Pratto also has mature ball/strike recognition and often displays visible contempt for umpires who lack it. He's a good athlete and potential defensive asset at first with good hands, footwork and an above average infield arm.
John Sickles echoed these thoughts on Minor League Ball, calling him a “potential All-Star first baseman” and a good athlete with great awareness. He notes that the biggest determining factor for Pratto is his power, but Sickles does not seem overly concerned about that going forward:
Drawing praise for his pure hitting ability, Pratto combines above-average bat speed, consistent hitting mechanics, and an exceptional feel for the strike zone, showing the ability to handle both fastballs and breaking balls. He may be the best pure hitter in the prep ranks, and he has enough strength to hit for substantial power as he matures.
There is a lot to like about Pratto, and perhaps the biggest worry for the Tigers is about his availability in the later half of the first round. No draft prospect is a sure thing, but there would be plenty of reason for excitement if Pratto is the player who ends up with Detroit in a couple of weeks.