Most Detroit Tigers fans tuned out of the 2017 MLB draft coverage shortly after their team selected right-handed pitcher Alex Faedo with the No. 18 overall pick, but the show (slowly) rolled on. With their second round pick, the Tigers drafted Reynaldo Rivera, an outfielder from Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. Rivera is currently committed to play at Mississippi State next season if he does not sign with the Tigers to play pro ball.
There is little in the way of scouting data on Rivera, which is not surprising at a junior college. Perfect Game ranked Rivera as their No. 403 overall prospect when he came out of high school in 2015, and cited his raw power as his greatest strength. Baseball America ranked him as their No. 14 first base prospect heading into this year’s draft. Shortly after Rivera was drafted, Baseball America’s Hudson Belinsky tweeted “...one evaluator said Rivera was the best JC hitter he had ever seen.”
Our friends at Viva El Birdos had more to say:
Rivera is huge, standing 6’6” and going 250 lbs, and he hits like a you would expect a man so huge to hit. He’s a lefty swinger, and has 65, maybe 70 grade raw power, though it comes with some fairly substantial swing and miss. That’s more a function of his height and long arms than a poor approach, though, and he sent a double off the left field wall during the Junior College World Series that was as nice a piece of opposite-field hitting I’ve seen since Lance Berkman hung up his spikes. He’s not a great athlete, though he looks pretty good at first base, and you’re betting he can refine his offensive game to tap into the power on a consistent basis. It’s not a bad bet to make, in my humble opinion.
That said, this seems like a reach. Viva El Birdos was profiling Rivera as a player that could be selected on day two when the St. Louis Cardinals are finally on the board. One scout told Bless You Boys that they had a ninth round grade on Rivera, who is still quite raw as a player. The minuses cited by Viva El Birdos above sound eerily familiar to another maligned Tigers prospect, especially if Rivera’s approach at the plate does not improve. This isn’t a bad risk to take in the later rounds, but the Tigers probably could have gone with a safer option at No. 57.
The Tigers did not have a second round pick in the 2016 draft after signing Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year, $110 million contract in the 2015-16 offseason. They also forfeited their third round pick when they inked Justin Upton to a six-year deal later that winter. In 2015, the Tigers drafted lefthander Tyler Alexander out of TCU with the 65th overall pick. Spencer Turnbull, Kevin Ziomek, and Jake Thompson were their previous three selections in the second round. The last position player the Tigers drafted in the second round was catcher James McCann, the 76th overall pick in the 2011 draft.
The Tigers do not have another pick on Monday evening. Coverage of the MLB draft will resume with Round 3 starting on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. ET. The draft will be aired live on MLB Network, and streamed online at MLB.com.