Spring training is drawing to its close, and if various statistical projection systems are accurate, the Tigers will be far from competitive during regular season action. That means we have to set our sights a little further out as the losses pile up during the year. Luckily, baseball on the amateur front is coming alive, offering plenty of potential for what Brandon might call “a scintillating exercise in speculation and supposition” — mock drafts.
An early mock draft written up by Taylor Blake Ward for his site, Who’s On First: Scouting Baseball, projects the Tigers to grab Missouri outfielder Kameron Misner with the No. 5 overall pick.
Although he is an all-around talent, Misner shines more at the plate than in the field. FanGraphs’ prospect team cites 70-grade, or plus-plus, raw power for the 21-year-old. In mathematical terms, that’s two standard deviations above the mean. This huge raw power a valuable skill, obviously, one that is rarely found anywhere in the Tigers’ pipeline (or anyone else’s, for that matter).
What’s more, Misner should be able to tap into his power enough to bring legitimate double-digit home run potential to the diamond. Generally considered to have a good approach at the plate, he doesn’t do too much. His simple bat path leads directly to the ball and it pays off well. At the time of a foot injury in 2018, he was leading Division I ball in walks. Between his ability to get on base and raw athleticism, he could provide significant offensive output at the major league level.
Unlike a lot of sluggers, Misner is also a good runner; he is nimble on the base paths and rangy in the outfield. He roves center for now, and while he will likely be deployed in right field as a professional, he should be more than capable in that role. He uses his speed well on the bases, too. Capable of stealing bags when the opportunity presents itself, you may read the words “20-20 threat” in his scouting reports for years to come.
Ward argues that Misner fits the Tigers’ modus operandi better than any player on the board at the moment. It’s easy to see why — since 2003, Detroit has only selected pitchers and outfielders in the first round* of the draft. We have no reason to believe that that trend is going to come to an end any time soon. Outside of Carter Stewart, there aren’t many pitchers who could make a very strong case for a top-five selection. Even Stewart has looked less than outstanding in his limited junior college action so far. Of the batters left, the only one who fits this mold and should still be on the board at fifth is Misner.
*Nicholas Castellanos, a compensation round pick in 2010, is the lone exception.
Last season, the Tigers had the opportunity to make the first selection of the draft and in every following round. They capitalized on that opportunity, opting for a group of high-ceiling players. Pulling off a repeat performance will be a bit trickier. They are not perched atop the draft order this time around. It is doable, though, and Misner would be a good way to kick it off.
It’s important to remember that mock drafts at this time of the year are little more than an excuse to write about amateur prospects. We don’t know who the Tigers are interested in. We don’t even really know who will be at the top of the class by the time draft day rolls around. Don’t forget, Brady Singer was considered the prohibitive favorite for the top pick at this time last year. By June, taking anyone other than Casey Mize was barely a thought.
Point being, it’s impossible to tell what will happen by the time June is here. As it stands now, though, Detroit could do a whole lot worse than Misner.