As we previously mentioned on the site this spring, the 2019 MLB draft feels a little more interesting for Tigers fans than 2018, when they had the No. 1 overall pick. This almost certainly stems from the uncertainty we fans are facing heading into the draft season. Detroit was all but locked into taking Casey Mize first overall last spring, but this year brings several more opportunities when the Tigers are on the clock at pick No. 5.
Or so we thought.
Recently, various mock drafts around the internet have honed in on one specific player for the Tigers: outfielder Riley Greene. Baseball America projected the Tigers will select the athletic outfielder in their latest mock, released on April 10. Through the Fence Baseball projected the same just a couple of weeks ago, and 24/7’s Jeff Ellis has put Greene and the Tigers together on multiple mock drafts already.
We will dive deeper into Greene and the other top prospects in the draft later this spring, but on the surface, this feels like a good pick for the Tigers. Greene is one of the top prep bats in this year’s draft class, one who should hit for both average and power at the next level. Baseball America noted a “small hitch in his smooth, lefthanded swing” when they ranked him their No. 7 prospect in the class, but also mentioned that Greene “has more than enough bat speed to avoid it being a red flag.”
Others have offered similar praise. MLB Pipeline has Greene at No. 8 on their rankings, with above-average grades for both his hit and power tools.
Greene has a very advanced approach from the left side of the plate, showing the ability to drive the ball to all fields with a smooth swing. At the Under Armour All-American Game in Chicago, he homered on a breaking ball behind in the count and continued to hit the ball with authority for Team USA. The only questions surrounding Greene are where he will play defensively at the next level. He’s a below-average runner and an average, at best, defender in an outfield corner. Many see him as a future left fielder and he played some first base for Team USA.
If there is a knock on Greene, it’s his defense. He grades out as a below-average runner and defender, but has an accurate arm that should keep him in the outfield. Michael Dault at Through the Fence mentioned that “his defensive tools are better at second glance,” so there may be hope yet that he turns into a solid outfielder as he gets older.
Other players mentioned as possibilities for the Tigers at No. 5 include UNLV shortstop Bryson Stott — who we have mentioned already on the site this spring — prep outfielder Corbin Carroll, TCU lefthander Nick Lodolo, and Kentucky southpaw Zack Thompson. Carroll is a smaller player who could ultimately play center field, but projects as more of your typical leadoff hitter — albeit one with some pop like the good, healthy version Jacoby Ellsbury.
Thompson and Lodolo have decent fastball velocity for left-handed arms, but does anyone really want to see the Tigers take a pitcher in the first round? We’ll preview them later on this spring, but all things considered, it would be nice to see the Tigers take a bat at the top of the draft this year.