In their latest mock draft, the fine folks at FanGraphs project the Detroit Tigers will use their No. 1 overall pick on... righthander Casey Mize. The top pick in this year’s draft seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point, with everyone predicting that Mize will don a Tigers uniform (or switch Tigers uniforms, if you will) on June 4.
While the pick itself is nothing new, some of the information Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel provided is. According to FanGraphs, Tigers general manager Al Avila has personally scouted a number of players, including Georgia high school outfielder Parker Meadows. The younger brother of top Pirates prospect Austin Meadows, Parker is a talented outfielder who could be in play when the Tigers make their second pick, at No. 44 overall. He is currently committed to Clemson, but if the Tigers are able to create enough wiggle room with their bonus pool money, they could potentially pry him away from his college commitment after draft day.
School: Grayson High School (GA)
Draft day age: 18
MLB Pipeline prospect rank: 48
Previously drafted: Never
MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: OF Parker Meadows
FanGraphs called Meadows “the spitting image of Indians CF Bradley Zimmer” when they ranked him No. 32 on their draft board earlier this spring, so this makes for an easy write-up. Like Zimmer, Meadows is lanky and athletic, but with a well-rounded profile. He has solid raw power that both FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline graded as plus thanks to his large frame. Dustin Nosler of Dodgers Digest noted that Meadows is still raw and developing physically, which makes for a bit of guesswork when projecting a player’s future potential.
Parker has a sweet left-handed swing that, despite its length at times, shows signs of quickness and loft. With his 6’4/195 frame, it’s easy to see why scouts think there could be power coming. He has a high leg kick that helps him generate bat speed and plus-raw power. There is some inconsistency in his game, which is why he’s not a top-of-the-draft prospect.
While the power is still developing, the speed is already there. MLB Pipeline described Meadows as a plus runner, while FanGraphs hedged slightly by calling it “deceptively plus speed.” Perfect Game clocked him at 6.51 seconds in a 60 yard dash “with easy acceleration on the bases”, which also equates to plus speed. This speed should help him stick in center field, where he projects to be an above-average fielder with an above-average arm.
Tall very athletic build, some present strength but lots of physical projection. Very fast, 6.51 in the sixty with easy acceleration on the bases. High level centerfield tools on defense, has big range with long strides and very good arm strength. Left handed hitter, loose quick hands, gap to gap approach at present and will willingly hit the other way with some impact, has a late hand drop load that will occasionally impact his timing, will keep improving offensively with additional strength.
Meadows would certainly be a project, but one with enough tools to get the job on both sides of the ball if he pans out.
As you have probably picked up on, Meadows is still fairly raw, even for a high school prospect. Many sites have noted inconsistencies in his game, particularly at the plate. His big, athletic frame is certainly a plus attribute, but works against him when it comes to his swing, which can get a bit long. MLB Pipeline grades his hit tool as slightly below average for this reason, but still at a respectable 45.
With the leverage and projectable strength in his 6-foot-4 frame, Meadows has plus raw power. His size also means he has a naturally long left-handed swing that has led to inconsistent contact against quality pitching on the showcase circuit. He has made some adjustments this spring, standing less upright and shortening his stride, but can look hesitant at times.
If Meadows can’t shorten his swing, his issues will only be exacerbated as he starts to see premium velocity. His approach at the plate — Perfect Game noted he was willing to go the other way — and willingness to make adjustments are good signs, but some guys (like Zimmer, so far) can’t always shorten up enough to make consistent loud contact.
Thanks to his athletic build and strong arm, the hit tool is Meadows’ only big weakness. Unfortunately, it’s also the most important tool for a prospect to get right. We’ve seen other talented prospects, like center fielder Derek Hill, struggle to put it all together at the plate. Zimmer should be a better hitter than Hill right out of the gate — the raw power certainly helps — but he also doesn’t have Hill’s elite speed and defensive ability to fall back on.
Draft position: compensation round or second round
Prep players are notoriously difficult to predict, but it seems like Meadows should go somewhere in the No. 30 to 45 range on draft day. He has a well-rounded skill set that should appeal to many teams, and is the type of player who should be easily swayed to sign with a decent bonus. That the Tigers are in on him heavily — the FanGraphs report suggests Avila scouted Meadows personally — indicates he might not make it past No. 44 overall.
More importantly, it looks like the Tigers are keying in on Meadows or another toolsy high schooler with their second round pick. Detroit could save a cool $1 million or more in bonus pool money on the No. 1 pick alone, and will have plenty to spend on the remains of a fairly deep class of talented prep players. The No. 44 overall pick already carries a bonus pool value of over $1.6 million, and Detroit could help expand that to land a prep player like Meadows who drops through the first round.
h/t 2080 Baseball, Perfect Game