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Tigers Den Roundtable: Who should the Tigers take with the No. 1 pick?

The MLB draft is less than a month away. Who should the Tigers take at 1-1?

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-LSU vs Oregon State Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 MLB Draft kicks off on Monday, June 4. As we all know, our Detroit Tigers have the No. 1 overall pick. The current consensus is that the Tigers will take Auburn righthander Casey Mize. He is the top prospect on everyone’s draft board right now, and just about every mock draft projects he will end up with Detroit; we’ve stopped writing about them because they’re so repetitive.

But this is baseball, and Mize isn’t a lock. There are still 25 days until the Tigers finally announce who they will take with the No. 1 pick, and a lot could change over the next three-plus weeks. But as we start to further ramp up our draft coverage, it’s time to discuss who the Tigers should look to grab at 1-1. Let’s ask the BYB staff who they want to see drafted.

This week’s question: Who should the Tigers take with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s MLB draft?

Ashley: The Tigers will likely take Casey Mize with their No. 1 pick because he’s a poster boy for the team’s top picks for the last... forever. A talented hard-throwing righty, Mize just has Tigers all over him. But my pick would be Nick Madrigal. I think, for the Tigers, who want to build a contention team within the next three to four years, selecting a talented infielder who could be big league ready by the time they are in competitive reach again is a much wiser pick than another “he might be the next Michael Fulmer or Justin Verlander” gamble. I like Madrigal’s profile, and think he’s poised to become a really solid everyday second baseman, which is something the future Tigers sorely need.

Brandon: I also believe the Tigers should take Madrigal with the first pick. He will have a quick development path to the majors and a similar floor and ceiling to the likely pick, Casey Mize, but without the risk of arm injuries that could turn any pitching prospect into a bust. Madrigal is a fireball in baseball form. He will be a plus defender at second base. He’ll get on base a ton with very advanced discipline and contact abilities. The power may surprise people as well. He’s not Jose Altuve, but Madrigal has excellent bat speed and makes constant hard contact. Add in a motor that allows him to steal a lot of bags and you have a player that will lead an offense for years to come, setting the table and wreaking havoc on the basepaths. He looks likely to start full-time in the majors as early as 2020, and I think he’s of at least equal value to Mize, with less risk. Mize just doesn’t have ace upside and I can’t justify taking him 1-1 when there’s little development ceiling left for a pitcher that looks to me like a future No. 2-3 starter if things pan out. Take Madrigal.

Jay: I don’t know why you say plus. Everywhere I’ve read says 55.

Rob: I’ve read he would be fine at second base but might be stretched at shortstop.

Jay: Fine and plus are different.

Brandon: Jay and I need to put a bet on this Mize v. Madrigal.

Jay: Who has the better career would be a really long term bet.

Brandon: Yup.

Fielder’s Choice: Give me 2-to-1 odds and I’ll bet on 40 different guys against either.

Brandon: Yep me too. But, we’re not writing a scouting article here either. What do you think, Jay?

Jay: My opinion on who has the better career?

Rob: I also don’t know if there’s anyone in this draft with real ace upside. Maybe a couple of the high school arms, but at 1-1 I think you take the potential No. 2 starter with a college pedigree and a much higher floor.

Brandon: Ethan Hankins has it, but I understand the shoulder issue scaring people off. I feel like if you can’t get an ace upside arm at 1-1, and there are position players with similar floor and ceiling, you should probably cut out the injury risk of the pitcher and take the position player. Unless you just love Mize, which I don’t, really. Alec Bohm, for example, I think, has a potential low floor. He’s risky. I don’t see Madrigal as risky at all.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-LSU vs Oregon State
Confession: Madrigal is the only college player we have pictures for.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Rob: As for who I want? Give me Casey Mize. His numbers are out of this world in the best conference in the country, and he has more upside than many seem to think. He pairs his low-to-mid 90s fastball with a double-plus splitter and two more useable breaking balls, and can command all of those pitches relatively well. He has established himself as the top guy in his draft class unlike any prospect we’ve seen in the past few years. Everyone has him ranked No. 1, and while he may not have true top-of-the-rotation upside, he’s way closer to that ceiling than anyone else in the draft right now. He’d be the best prospect in our system the moment his name is called.

I don’t see Madrigal as having franchise-changing upside. That’s kind of the rub with this entire draft class though. Lots of 55s, no real standout talent.

John: Up until I was asked this question, my player research on the 2018 draft was made up entirely of the four minutes of baseball I watched Mize pitch a few weeks back because I just happened to catch a game he was pitching in on one of the many iterations of ESPN. I have now done a solid 20 minutes of online research, most of that consisting of finding a rankings list that I could understand and that wasn’t buried behind a paywall — thanks tons, FanGraphs — and I now feel prepared to speculate. I would like to see the Tigers take center fielder Travis Swaggerty. There are a few reasons I make this choice. First, I would rather cut off fingers than see the Tigers take yet another power pitcher from the South. Second, once you get past Daz Cameron and the perpetually injured Derek Hill, I’m not too stoked on what the organization can offer for center field talent, and I’m really not that pumped about Hill or Cameron to begin with. Swaggerty fields the position well and appears to carry solid contact skills with power that is continuing to develop. The third, and possibly most important factor here is that his last name is Swaggerty.

Brandon: This might be the most reasonable take we come up with.

John: I have zero faith in the center field spot in the current organization.

Brandon: Maybe JaCoby will make it a moot point. I like Daz, but he’s probably not much more than an average center fielder. I still will be patient with Hill, but wow is he off to a godawful start so far [Ed.: And now he’s on the disabled list].

Fielder’s Choice: I want Swaggerty too, so when he and Kyle Funkhouser both make it to the big-leagues, we can change the team name to Funk and Swagnalls New World Baseball Club (but really I want Mize, I guess).

Patrick O.: The Tigers should take the best player available in the June amateur player draft, regardless of position. As of the start of this season, that was Brady Singer, a starting pitcher from Florida. Now, it’s Casey Mize. By June, it may be someone else, although Mize seems to be pulling away from the pack. It may seem like the Tigers have plenty of pitching in the pipeline, but just watch as the top prospects come up with injuries, control issues, and other obstacles on the way up the ladder. The odds are against any given pitcher being a star in the major leagues, and starting pitchers are the most expensive commodity to acquire either by trade or free agency. Sure, the Tigers are in desperate need of position players also, but they should take the best player available.

Jay: The anti-Mize sentiment is simply sports hipsterism at it’s finest. He is the top prospect of the 2018 draft. That there’s disagreement about his status boggles my mind. Before the season started, the word on Auburn’s ace was that very little could hold him back if his health cooperated. It has, and he has only gotten better as the season has gone on. From a scouting standpoint, his splitter was plus pre-season and has advanced to 70-grade territory. He throws in the mid-90s with plus movement and has hit 97 miles per hour on some nights. He had a plus slider, and if that wasn’t enough, just added a plus cutter out of nowhere. Not only are every one of his offerings as explosive as you please, they are paired with command unmatched by anyone in the Tigers’ pipeline and make him all the more deadly. The stats tell an even better story. As of Monday, Mize has struck out 104 hitters over over 75 innings while only walking seven. He has thrown two complete games, including a no-hitter, and has the best chance of reaching his ceiling of any of the players in consideration for the top pick. I understand that the system cries out for quality position players, but passing up on a player with Mize’s potential seems like pure foolishness. He’s already better than a segment of the Tigers’ current MLB pitching corps and has potential for even more down the road.

Rob: If and when the Tigers do take Mize, I hope they do what Atlanta did with Kyle Wright this year and just throw him to the wolves at Double-A next season.

Brandon: Yeah, someone asked if he would reach the majors first over Franklin Perez, and he absolutely will, injuries notwithstanding. They could also rest him, start him in the Arizona Fall League, and then start him in Erie next year.

Fielder’s Choice: Well, isn’t he already a couple years older than Perez? The better question might be Mize vs. Alex Faedo.

Rob: No, the question is who will be second. Mize (or any college prospect drafted 1-1) should rocket through the system.

Ron: Barring any major setbacks I believe the Tigers should take Casey Mize. As the others have mentioned he’s the clear front runner right now. Between the Tigers rebuilding and it being the first overall pick, it’s important to take the best player available. Unless the Tigers front office has some advance scouting on him or someone else, they should take Mize in the draft.

John: Today a teenager forced me to face the hard truth that I’m a sports hipster. I’m now off to ride my fixed gear bike to the nearest local coffee shop so I can get a fair trade organic cold brew pour over and sit around in my skinny black girl jeans while I talk about some new band you’ve never heard of.

Rob: I… actually did almost all of those things the other day.