As mentioned in an earlier article, Detroit’s front office leans towards catchers more than other position players in the earliest rounds of the draft. That trend has held true this year. Two round after taking Washington Huskies catcher Joey Morgan with their third pick, the Tigers selected prep backstop Sam McMillan, a 6’0” 18-year-old from Suwannee High School in Florida.
While selections from earlier rounds had a particularly impressive tool, like Alex Faedo’s wipeout slider, McMillan doesn’t have a standout ability that makes him particularly better than others. However, his biggest strength is his lack of big weaknesses. Unlike many catchers that were available to teams this year, he has the ability to stay behind the plate long-term. He is small enough to execute defensive maneuvers well, but not so small that there are durability concerns.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo was higher than most on McMillan, saying this about the 109th ranked prospect:
He has a solid hit tool, making consistent hard contact. There's some power in his right-handed swing, with a bit more to come as he physically matures. McMillan is a capable defender, with average receiving tools. Grades on his arm have varied this spring, but it has turned out he's been catching with some arm problems for much of this year, leading many scouts to think his arm is a tick above-average when healthy.
Perfect Game was also kind in their evaluation of the young player, in their own cold, dispassionate manner.
Lean athletic build with room to fill out and add strength. Hits from a square stance. Line drive swing plane with a quick barrel through zone. Makes consistent hard pull side contact. Makes loud contact with good barrel control.
McMillan comes from an extraordinarily risky demographic, however. Catchers from high school very rarely pan out. At the moment, there are two catchers on major league rosters who get regular playing time and were drafted from high schools in the continental United States: Travis d’Arnaud and Tucker Barnhart. The success rate isn’t very encouraging, but it will be interesting to see what the Tigers do with the unusual player.