With Casey Mize still locked in as the apparent number one overall pick, attention is rapidly going to turn to the Detroit Tigers’ second round pick on Monday night. We’ve looked at options like outfielder Parker Meadows, and a few others, but one that has been repeatedly mentioned as a player on the Tigers’ radar is Mississippi prep standout, J.T. Ginn. FanGraphs has mentioned the Tigers’ interest in a few of their chats, and he fits the profile of a signable, high-velocity arm that the Tigers could perhaps pluck even if Casey Mize commands his full slot value of $8.1 million.
Ginn was the Gatorade Player of the Year out of Mississippi this year. The Brandon, Mississippi product was a dominant hitter as well as a pitcher, but the Tigers presumably won’t be trying to develop him as a two-way player should he get the call on draft night. Ginn is raw of course. He wouldn’t be available in the second rise otherwise as he flashes a pair of offerings that can touch double-plus grades. Currently Ginn is committed to attend Mississippi State, but it doesn’t sound like there will be much trouble signing him for a modest amount over the 44th round pick’s assigned slot bonus.
School: Brandon High School (MS)
Draft day age: 19
MLB Pipeline prospect rank: 33
Previously drafted: Never
MLB Pipeline Scouting Grades: RHP J.T. Ginn
MLB Pipeline had Ginn ranked just outside the first round earlier in the year, and despite a great season, his command issues, along with movement from other amateur prospects has seen his stock slip a little bit this spring. This could potentially work out in the Detroit Tigers’ favor. Ginn’s stuff is extremely dynamic. Teams are well aware of his high ceiling profile, but the risks attached are likely too much for a team to swallow with a first round pick. If he survives the first round of compensation picks, the Tigers may be thrilled to grab him at 44. They’ll likely have to do better than the $1.6 million slot bonus for the spot to sign him, however.
Ginn has a monster fastball-slider combination. He can run his fastball up into the high-90’s already with a lot of life. His slider is more erratic, but when he has the handle on it, the pitch is a plus offering with sharp late bite. Even if Ginn is held back by a lagging changeup, and his still developing control, there’s a future relief profile here just based on explosive stuff alone. If Ginn can continue to develop his command, and refine a third offering, his potential is very high as a starter.
Minor League Ball loves Ginn’s potential ceiling.
“He is able to crank his powerful heater up to 97 miles per hour, and it has good running action. It easily has the potential to reach double-plus status and is the bread and butter that it anchors his arsenal. The offering is able to incite ugly swings and plays well off his other deadly offering, his slider. Ginn’s slider is a weapon with sharp horizontal bite. The pitch has the potential to become plus and at times flashes better than plus.
MLB Pipeline offers a similar assessment.
Ginn had the highest fastball velocity at USA Baseball’s Tournament of Stars last summer at 94.6 mph, sat at 95-97 mph at the Under Armour All-America Game and has reached 99 mph this spring. His heater has late life and he can command it to both sides of the plate. If hitters try to sit on his fastball, they can look silly because he also has a wipeout slider in the mid-80s. Ginn also shows feel for a changeup with some running action, so he has enough pitches to start.
Ginn has struck out 195 hitters against 30 walks, in 110 innings pitched at the varsity level. Whoever manages to draft and sign him is going to get themselves a bit of a project as a starter, but one with enormous upside and a relief profile to fall back on.
One minor issue with Ginn, is that he’s already 19 and has spent the last year dominating hitters who were a year or more younger than he is. Still, his stuff is outstanding, and on that score there is no argument.
He also doesn’t quite have the frame of your prototypical hard-throwing ace. Ginn is listed at 6’2”, 200 pounds, but some find that a little generous. There is effort from a somewhat crossfire delivery, and it will make teams question whether he can sustain his stuff and command late in games once he’s facing tougher competition. There doesn’t appear to be much physical projection left for him.
Some observers will grade his changeup as average, while others are a little more sanguine. When you’re pumping a lively 96mph past prep hitters, it’s easier for a changeup to show out better than it really is. However the potential is there, and reports vary on its quality, with the pitch often showing average with flashes of more.
Still, the stuff is absolutely legit on the fastball and slider alone. The real hurdle for Ginn is to continue developing his command. The effort in his delivery forebodes some difficulties in that regard, though most observers grade him as having average control already. However, Ginn is all around superb athlete. He’s been one of, if not the best, prep hitters in Mississippi the past two seasons while playing a quality shortstop. He hit .483 with 16 home runs as a junior, and didn’t really miss a beat this season, launching nine homers with a .419 batting average. That athleticism is a good point in his favor in terms of his eventual ability to locate a pair of potentially double-plus offerings in his fastball and slider. If he’s able to do so, a team is going to have themselves a monster relief arm at minimum.
Draft position: compensation round or second round
Right now, FanGraphs most recent mock draft had Ginn set to go with the 47th pick. Others believe he may be snatched up in the first compensation pick round before the Tigers get a crack at him with the 44th overall pick. Still, the odds seem to indicate that he’ll be available should the Tigers’ pass on the prep bats available.