The MLB draft is exactly week away, and there is very rarely a time that prospects are in the spotlight as much as they are now. Amid the flurry of rumors and speculations flying around, comes a mock draft written by FanGraphs. While most of the mocks that have been released have been leaning towards some of the same players, with Nick Pratto and D.L. Hall coming up frequently, FanGraphs broke from the pack and gave the Tigers a player that has generally been dropped to the mid-twenties.
This prospect is one that hails from the prep ranks, and is just the Tigers’ style. He has a well-rounded arsenal that starts with a mid-90s fastball, backed up by an above-average slider, and featuring an unusually advanced changeup that he uses liberally to finish it off. To be frank, it’s surprising Detroit hasn’t been linked to him before. The interesting arm suits their style well, and is a bit of a project, much like their last two first round selections.
Who is this mystery man? FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen explains.
18. Detroit – Sam Carlson, RHP, Burnsville HS (MN) A hard-throwing prep righty with a prototypical build, Carlson is very much Detroit’s style. I’ve heard they could start the run on the next tier of prep outfielders here, too, either with Puerto Rican CF Heliot Ramos or Georgia high schooler Drew Waters.
Carlson’s skill set is rather unusual for a player from a cold-weather state. He has three advanced pitches and locates them all very well. Even his changeup shows significant promise, and he uses it far more frequently than the average high school hurler. In fact, one scout who has seen him pitch on multiple occasions sees the pitch as a future 60-grade offering. To be sure, he is a true pitcher, not just a thrower. Why, then, would he fall to the Tigers at the 18th pick?
There are only two concerns teams might have about Carlson. First is his signability. He is committed to Florida and there are claims he intends to fulfill that commitment unless he is provided a sizable bonus. There is also the thought process that he’d be a risky pick because he’s a high schooler out of a cold-weather state. Minnesota is not a hotbed of baseball talent, and Carlson is assuredly going to be a project for the team that snags him.
The other two players mentioned — Heliot Ramos and Drew Waters — would both be a bit of an overdraft, but drafting one of them may indicate a shift in the thinking of the organization. Both are prep outfielders with lots of projection. Waters is the bigger reach of the two. His floor is higher, but his ceiling is decidedly lower. He is a plus runner and defender, with a rocket for an arm. However, his bat is questionable at times. The hit tool isn’t a always present and the power, while undeniable, is intermittent. He switch-hits, and is more comfortable from the left. He was profiled by Bless You Boys, and you can read an interview with him here.
Ramos’ value rests on his power above all else. He can mash a baseball with the best of them. He’s also an above-average runner, and some can see 20/20 seasons in his future. Factor in his average defensive skills and the ceiling is a tantalizing one, that’s for certain. The catch? If you google the word “raw” you’ll find a picture of the powerful outfielder between the pile of vegetables and the dish of sushi. He’s got all the tools to succeed, but any team who drafts him will be taking on a five or six year project to polish him to the point where his skills will be transferable onto the major league field. The biggest weakness is his hit tool, which will need major improvement to be serviceable at the highest level.