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Should the Tigers take a pitcher or hitter in the 1st round of the 2019 MLB draft?

Spoiler alert: we’re going to have this debate a lot over the next seven months.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 MLB draft is still seven months away (hell, we’re not even to the 2019 part yet). However, in this day and age, that hasn’t stopped multiple outlets from releasing top prospect lists and early mock drafts. MLB Pipeline took an early stab at predicting the top 10 picks earlier this week, and to little surprise, paired the Detroit Tigers with a promising starting pitcher.

The actual pick doesn’t matter at this point. Whether it’s Duke lefthander Graeme Stinson, big righthander Carter Stewart — who Perfect Game ranked the No. 5 prospect in the 2019 class — or someone else, the question is a simple one: pitcher or hitter?

Our own Jay Markle took to Twitter to take the fanbase’s pulse on the matter.

Generally speaking, teams should look to take the best player available in the MLB draft. The wash-out rate of prospects is so high that a team can never really have too much prospect depth at any position. Injuries, position changes, and trades can change a team’s organizational depth chart in a flash.

But let’s say the Tigers find themselves deciding between two prospects they find relatively similar. Should they take the pitcher or the hitter?

On one hand, you can never have too much pitching depth

Prospects wash-out rate is high, and it is even higher for pitchers. Not all pitchers develop at the same rate, and even a stable of solid starting pitching prospects won’t all break into the majors at the same time. Some will move to the bullpen. Others will fail entirely. By acquiring as many pitching prospects as possible, the Tigers will have a better chance of developing their own young, cost-controlled pitching staff for a future contender.

One could also argue that building a team focused around young, cost-controlled pitching is less risky than having to find top arms on the free agent market or via trade. Veteran pitchers get injured more often than veteran hitters as well, and paying top dollar for a player who fails to produce (Jordan Zimmermann, for example) can set a team back for years to come.

The Tigers could also use a premier bat in their system

Detroit’s farm system is very pitcher-heavy at the moment. Outfielder Daz Cameron and shortstop Isaac Paredes are coming off breakout seasons, but they are the only two position prospects that project to be starters at the MLB level. Getting another top bat in the system would go a long way in helping the Tigers create a well-rounded core of young, controllable players.

Top college bats also have the best odds of panning out at the MLB level. Hitters who can handle the college game — especially as it has become increasingly pitcher-friendly over the past half-decade — translate very well to the minors, and often reach the major leagues very quickly. Alex Bregman, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Dansby Swanson, Buster Posey, and Ryan Braun are all recent(ish) examples of top-five picks out of college who reached the majors in just two seasons.

What do you think?


Should the Tigers take a pitcher or hitter with the No. 5 pick in next year’s draft?

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