In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Keith Law projected that the Detroit Tigers will draft Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart with the No. 1 overall pick. This would be a huge draft day surprise for the Tigers, who have been connected with Auburn righthander Casey Mize all spring long. Mize is the consensus top player in the draft class, but bonus demands and other factors may lead the Tigers to look elsewhere when on the clock during Monday’s MLB draft.
Now, this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Law himself notes that he is not truly predicting the Tigers will take Bart over Mize — who has been atop every other mock draft on every other major site for the past two months — but has heard enough from front office executives elsewhere to project Bart as the first overall pick in his final mock draft of the cycle.
Law’s actual wording is hard to summarize, so just let him explain.
Yes, this is a change, but I’m not in any way saying this will happen, or that the Tigers have made a public decision. (Maybe they haven’t even made an internal decision.) I can say the teams behind them, with whom I’ve had discussions, leaned toward Bart going first over Casey Mize because of pitcher-versus-position-player concern. Of course, this could come down to which player is willing to take the better deal for the Tigers -- and perhaps there will be a third name involved, like Jarred Kelenic, whom the Tigers scouted heavily at the end of his season.
If the Tigers do go with Bart, they will be landing an excellent two-way catcher with star potential. Bart’s bat has been his carrying tool for the past few years, but improvements in his game defensively have led him to the top of many draft boards. The San Francisco Giants have been linked heavily with Bart throughout the cycle at No. 2 overall, but could ultimately miss out on their prize if Detroit surprises everyone with their pick.
In addition to his progress behind the plate, Bart has made tweaks to his batting stance and has shown an overall improvement in his approach at the plate. As a freshman, Bart’s stance was more spread out. He had a hard time catching up to velocity on the inner half and was susceptible to breaking balls away. He now has a far more upright posture at the plate, standing taller and looser, allowing him to tap into his plus raw power more often in games. Hall noted that Bart is chasing fewer breaking balls, and his improved strikeout rate would seem to support that.
Check out our draft profile on Bart for more.