The Detroit Tigers have selected Riley Greene, an outfielder from Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Fla. with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft. Greene, 18, is widely considered one of the best hitters in the draft class.
Greene landing with the Tigers is no surprise. Detroit was linked to the talented prep outfielder throughout the entire draft cycle, and most major draft publications had the two parties together in their latest mock drafts leading up to Monday’s selection. The Tigers were also linked to Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn, who went No. 3 overall to the Chicago White Sox, but Greene was a popular pick for the Tigers early on in the draft cycle.
As a prospect, Greene’s value will largely be tied to how well he hits. MLB Pipeline projects him as a plus hitter, while FanGraphs described him as an “advanced hitter” who is comparable to Minnesota Twins prospect Alex Kirilloff (the No. 12 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline). Greene won’t land that high at first, but should hit the ground running thanks to a “terrific approach at the plate with a smooth swing.” Baseball America even noted that “some teams have pegged him as a future 70-grade hitter, which is rare for prep bats.”
Greene should also hit for plenty of power; MLB Pipeline grades him as a potential above-average power hitter at the next level, while others have described his power as a potential plus tool at peak, especially to the pull side. He has a bit of room to grow on his 6’1, 191-pound frame, which could help him add even more raw power as he matures.
Fans will have plenty of opinions about this pick, but their views could potentially be skewed by Greene’s signing bonus. The No. 5 overall pick carries a slot value of $6,180,700, over half of Detroit’s full bonus pool of $10.4 million. No high school player has been selected with the No. 5 overall pick since 2015, but recent prep signees in a similar range, like No. 6 picks Jerred Kelenic and Austin Beck, left a bit of money on the table. It’s difficult to say whether the Tigers would be able to sign Greene for below slot, but the two sides have been linked long enough that it seems safe to say that they have an idea of each other’s bonus demands.
The top five picks have unfolded as expected so far. The Baltimore Orioles took Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the No. 1 overall pick, and prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. went to the Royals second overall. The Chicago White Sox dashed Detroit fans’ hopes when they took first baseman Andrew Vaughn with the No. 3 pick, and the Miami Marlins followed through with their plans to grab Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday at No. 4.
The Tigers’ next pick is the No. 47 overall selection, the fifth pick of the second round. Detroit does not own a competitive balance round pick in 2019, making the 47th pick their last selection on Monday.