The 2018 draft cycle was a time of immense excitement for Detroit Tigers fans. Even the most old school of fans would struggle to be unimpressed with the first overall selection. When all went as expected and the Tigers opted for Casey Mize — the now well-known starter from Auburn — fans’ attention has been shifted to prospect lists. These rankings are notoriously difficult to create with any accuracy, and the concept is riddled with flaws, but darn it if it isn’t fun.
On Wednesday morning, Baseball America released their first list to include 2018 draftees. Mize was (obviously) the most highly ranked of the batch from Detroit that was included. Who else made the list?
RHP Casey Mize, #18
Slotting in the top 20, Mize ranks higher than the rest for good reason. His fastball makes hitters uncomfortable with fantastic armside movement and pinpoint accuracy, and he has a pair of decent breaking balls in a slider and a cutter. The evaluators at Baseball America call the slider average, but pegs the cutter as above-average and both are thrown with the uncanny accuracy of the fastball. The splitter is what overwhelms opponents, though, and it is his strikeout pitch. It is given a whopping 70-grade evaluation, a full two standard deviations above the mean.
This likely represents the high watermark for Mize’s placement on any of the major Top 100 lists thanks to his limited upside. That’s okay, though, because he has an ultra-high floor and that’s what will keep him in the top third of nationwide rankings.
RHP Franklin Perez, #43
Through little fault of his own, the jewel of the Justin Verlander deal looks a little less shiny now than he did a year ago. He has good stuff, with a plus fastball from a high arm slot and a curve that’s just just as good. Add in a serviceable slider and changeup and above-average understanding of the strike zone, and you’ve got a nice little prospect. Unfortunately, that looks a little dull beside the package that Mize offers, and he has yet to pitch in the upper levels of Detroit’s system thanks to an injury. He dropped down a bit, mostly because of new additions to pro baseball. He’s still a good prospect, though, and absolutely deserved this spot.
RHP Matt Manning, #56
As has been discussed on this site in the recent past, things are starting to click for the ultra-raw Manning. His fastball command has progressed significantly since being drafted in 2016 and he has looked more and more like the strikeout monster that his supporters have long envisioned. Baseball America even projects his changeup to be a plus pitch, though they note is is currently below average. Unfortunately, his successes haven’t been long-lived enough to move the needle on his stock. He, like Perez, fell due 2018 draftees. Unlike Perez, though, Manning is primed to go on a meteoric rise if he can get his command together just a little more frequently.
RHP Alex Faedo, #89
It’s odd to see Faedo this low on the list; the evaluators have nothing but good things to say about the former Florida ace. All three of his pitches earn plus grades and he is credited with above-average control despite unconventional mechanics. Though they note he leans on the slider too much for his own good, they compliment his changeup as a swing-and-miss offering and note that he has remarkable control over the shape of his fastball. He took a steep tumble down the rankings though, dropping from #61 on the last list. Why? Perhaps it has to do with his unflashy performances or dip in fastball velocity. He’s still a steal for his draft position and has been looking better for the last month or two.