Two days into the three-days-long Major League Baseball Rule 4 amateur draft, most of the major decisions have been made by the Detroit Tigers and the other 29 teams. Meanwhile, the Tigers hosted the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night after an off-night and won 9-6 behind a Miguel Cabrera grand slam and a quality start (!) by Ryan Carpenter to get back on the winning track.
Despite the victory, while the team continues its “rebuild”, the most exciting topic this time of year has become who the team drafts in an attempt to move the franchise forward.
Draft prospect profiles
At the time of publication, the Tigers had made 10 selections in this year’s draft, focusing primarily bat-first players with high floors in the earlier rounds. While many fans debated who should be taken with the fifth overall pick, Detroit ultimately selected prep standout Riley Greene. The young outfielder from Orlando, Fla. has a lot of high upside and management appears to be excited about his acquisition.
In the second round, the Tigers went with University of Arizona third baseman Nick Quintana, a college junior who wields a power bat and a slick glove, but has some hit-and-miss concerns at the plate. His plus defense did not come naturally — initially panned as a liability in the field, he has made vast improvements during his collegiate career, illustrating his ability to grow as an athlete.
The third round brought Andre Lipcius into the fold — another third baseman — with the 83rd pick overall. The senior from the Tennessee Volunteers had a breakout season in 2019, finishing second only to first-rounder J.J. Bleday in home runs among Southeastern Conference players. Word on the street is that he is smart, controls the bat well, and has elite spin identification abilities. Not a bad way to start of the middle day of the draft.
Got this text from someone in-the-know about @tigers 3rd rounder Andre Lipcius of @Vol_Baseball:— Dan Hasty (@ThatDanHasty) June 4, 2019
“Elite cognitive skills. Identifies spin like no one I have seen before. Power to all fields & controls the barrel like a big leaguer. Really good hands defensively.”@RoadtoDetroit
The Tigers’ second selection on Tuesday was shortstop Ryan Kreidler, a junior from the University of California Los Angeles. A departure from the bat-first selection with the first three picks, the 112th overall pick projects to remain at short with his strong glove and field presence. Unfortunately, he leaves a bit to be desired at the plate despite a decent batting line in college.
With the 142nd overall pick in the fifth round, Bryant Packard joined the fray. The left fielder from East Carolina University with another high-upside bat continues the Tigers’ general trend thus far of targeting what the system needs most, and that is offense. After hitting a Ted Williams-esque .406/.462/.671 with 14 home runs his sophomore year, he was unable to repeat that torrid performance in 2019, but still put up more than respectable numbers.
- 6th round (172nd): Cooper Johnson, C, Ole Miss (MS)
- 7th round (202nd): Zack Hess, RHP, LSU
- 8th round (232nd): Jack Kenley, SS, Arkansas
- 9th round (262nd): Austin Bergner, RHP, UNC
- 10th round (292nd): Jake Fulton, 1B, Creighton
That’s it for the Tigers top ten picks:— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrown0914) June 4, 2019
Nine college players
One high schooler
Two right-handed pitchers
Four players from the SEC
Two players from the Pac-12
One player from the ACC
One player from the AAC
One player from the Big East
Miguel Cabrera avoids surgery
After a couple of days of the fanbase holding its bated breath over Miguel Cabrera’s MRI results due to persistent right knee soreness, everyone can now breathe a collective sigh of relief. Or can they?
Miguel Cabrera underwent an MRI that showed chronic changes to his knee, the natural result of a long career. Four orthopedic surgeons gave recommendations, including James Andrews. Surgery seemed like a possibility, but doctors concluded it was best to “treat symptomatically.”— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) June 4, 2019
The recent imaging studies — after consultation with several specialists, including the famous Dr. James Andrews — have shown chronic wear on Cabrera’s right knee as a result of the attrition that comes with being an aging professional athlete. While there does not appear to be any new acute trauma to be concerned about, from the sounds of it, Miggy’s days playing first base are probably over.
The good news is that by narrowly escaping the surgeon’s blade, he can continue to help the Tigers with his bat, which is sorely needed given the anemic offense they have been rolling out day-in and day-out. He came up a triple short of the cycle on Tuesday night, including a grand slam off of 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell, proving there is still a bit of pop left in the future Hall of Famer’s bat.
However, it was inevitable that Cabrera would eventually migrate to a permanent status in the designated hitter role, and it appears that time is nearly nigh. Hopefully, the new approach will help savor the twilight years of the best Tigers hitter in half a century.
Kyle Funkhouser heads to Lakeland
Although it is not being announced as a rehab stint technically, Kyle Funkhouser is heading to Florida to pitch for the Lakeland Flying Tigers and work his way up the ladder to back Toledo. After being sidelined this past May with a right shoulder impingement, the oft-injured righty has an opportunity to see some time with the big league team if he can get himself up to speed.
Funkhouser came out strong in his first start off the injured list, throwing five innings of no-run ball, allowing two hits, one walk, and striking out four in his first appearance in nearly a month. It is a good omen to see him perform well early, and hopefully he will start spending his time playing for teams along the Great Lakes in the weeks to come.
Can't ask for much better than this from #Tigers Kyle Funkhouser's first start in about a month.— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) June 5, 2019
Final Line for Lakeland:
5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K
63 pitches (39 strikes)
Farmhand Kasey Murphy retires
Back to the topic of draft selections, the Tigers’ 11th round pick in 2018 left handed pitcher Kacey Murphy has announced his retirement. Thought by some to be a clever pick on last year’s third day, his upside projection was a back of the rotation starter. No reason for the decision was immediately given.
Some @wmwhitecaps news this morning, as pitcher Kacey Murphy has decided to retire from baseball.— Dan Hasty (@ThatDanHasty) June 4, 2019
Murphy was less than a year removed from being the @tigers first pick on Day 3 of the 2018 @MLBDraft out of @RazorbackBSB. All the best to Kacey going forward. pic.twitter.com/V3fJjCMZ6q
Around the horn
You can find a complete review of Monday’s draft results for every team at Fangraphs. JaCoby Jones’s offensive turnaround is inspired by an unlikely source. Trevor Bauer remade his slider and changed baseball. Former National League Most Valuable Player award winner Andrew McCutchen is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. Interested in some high-price Tigers swag? Denny McLain’s 1968 American League MVP award and a high quality Ty Cobb card from 1917-20 are currently on auction.