With the 2020 MLB draft concluded, and after a few days to think about the results, our writers are still pretty pleased. We polled the Bless You Boys staff with three basic questions, and the responses reveal a high level of satisfaction with how things played out.
The addition of Spencer Torkelson gives them arguably five of the top 50 prospects in baseball. With a handful of interesting players probably just outside the top 100 and a good bit of depth behind them, the Tigers have a pretty strong, well-rounded foundation to build from at this point. We’ll see how they do with undrafted players, but a quality draft has them set up nicely.
There’s an awful long way to go, of course. The major league roster doesn’t yet have a single player we’re comfortable predicting to be a notable part of a future Tigers’ contender. Even the better prospects won’t necessarily work out. The Tigers will need to keep the pipeline of talent flowing as the top prospects graduate, trade successfully, and make smart investments in free agency to sustain a push back to the top.
After years in baseball’s cellar, this is probably just the ground floor, but we’ll take it. The 2020 draft may be the class that propels the Tigers back into a competitive phase once again.
Which of the Tigers’ six draft picks did you like best and why?
Rob Rogacki: Getting Daniel Cabrera as late as the Tigers did is a steal. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers fit all of these guys into their allotted bonus pool, and Cabrera seems like one that may have to go over slot. But drafting a player I would not have minded taking at #38 overall nearly 30 picks later is a big get.
Brandon Day: Torkelson is obviously the best player, but I’ll say Daniel Cabrera at 62 as well. If they’d taken him at 38 I wouldn’t have complained about it. Outside of Tork, Riley Greene, and Isaac Paredes, I think Cabrera is the best bet to hit in the system. If he can squeeze a little more out of his other tools as he develops he’s an everyday corner OF.
Patrick O’ Kennedy: I like all of the Tigers’ draft selections, but Tork is a potential generational talent and a middle of the order bat for many seasons to come.
Adam Dubbin: I’m very happy with Torkelson, especially given the dearth of bats in the Tigers’ system. He immediately becomes the No. 3 prospect in the system in my opinion, and gives the Tigers a big boost where they need it most. Best-case scenario is that he’s the heir-apparent to Cabrera at first base.
Trevor Hooth: Daniel Cabrera is the clear non-Spencer Torkelson answer. But I want to shed light on the Gage Workman pick. He’s very smooth defensively, and honestly I think he could end up being the SS that the Tigers were looking for in the draft. Offensively, he’s got some raw power to tap into from both sides of the plate and if he can, then he could be the steal of the draft. A really nice pick by the Tigers.
Brady McAtenmey: Torkelson is the obvious top choice. I can’t add much to that. Cabrera is absolutely the next answer, but I’ll go with Dillon Dingler. I’ve seen people make cases that he was the best catcher in the draft, so to get him at #38 overall feels like a steal. Given the lack of MLB starter-caliber catchers in the system, I’m overall quite pleased with the selection if he can get the bat going.
Zane Harding: I like Torkelson, because Spencer Torkelson is a talented baseball player who hits a lot of home runs. #analysis
Which pick would you do over and what player taken later would you select instead?
Rob: The biggest regret from this draft is that baseball thought it could do without rounds 6-40, but if I have to pick a player from the Tigers’ draft class, it’s Trei Cruz. Many Tigers fans were worried about the team’s interest in Arkansas shortstop Casey Martin as a second round pick, but grabbing him with their fourth pick of the draft would not have been so bad. He was considered a potential first round pick after the 2019 season, and one wonders where he would have gone with another impressive run through SEC play. But it’s hard to argue with what the Tigers were able to do on draft day, considering the universal praise they have drawn from local and national media alike.
Brandon: I’d rather have LHP Dax Fulton or one of the other big arms that were available at 38. Dingler is a good value pickup there, but I would’ve liked to try for more upside with such a high pick since we already had a very safe pick at 1-1. Not complaining, but to take a catcher with that pick he really has to hit and I’m not confident on that score. The Tigers already have solid catching depth. What they need is a legitimate two-way starting catcher. If Dingler proves to be that guy this is a huge win. We’ll see.
Patrick: I would not want a do over on any of the picks. If there’s one that they could have gone another direction, it would be Dingler. He may have been the best position player on the board at the time, or they could have looked for some offense in the middle infield. As one who isn’t sold on Jake Rogers, I like the pick.
Adam: In an abbreviated five-round draft I don’t feel like there’s much room for drafter’s remorse. The Tigers got some great talent — which has been echoed by the baseball community at large — and we won’t know exactly how smart those selections were until a few years have passed, so I’m happy standing pat with this cohort.
Trevor: There’s no real pick I wish didn’t happen, but if there was one guy I wanted on the Tigers, it would be Coby Mayo. He was one of my favorite draft prospects this year. He’s a gifted hitter with power upside. He was taken right after Workman though, so I’m not losing any sleep over not getting him.
Zane: The only pick that made me raise an eyebrow whatsoever was Trei Cruz. I’m extremely biased, but Jordan Nwogu was absolutely stellar at Michigan and went 15 picks after Cruz to the Chicago Cubs. There was definitely a small part of me that wanted to see Nwogu come into our organization, and I think he has an MLB future for no other reason than how he already destroyed the odds at Michigan. (Seriously, you can’t get a much better baseball story than “football player gets his first shot at baseball, uses it to become the star of the team when the skipper implements an ‘all-character’ lineup following an ugly losing streak.” Come on, now!)
Brady: Trei Cruz inspires me the least out of the class, but I don’t think I dislike the pick. If they were set on taking prep infielder at that spot, one guy I would’ve taken over him was... Colt Keith. So I really can’t bring myself to be mad about the pick. It’s especially impressive that they grabbed Gage Workman in-between those two.
Grade the Tigers draft with a paragraph or two to explain your grade.
Rob: As tempted as I am to further whine about MLB’s shortsighted decisions and call this class “incomplete,” I think Al Avila and Co. deserve an ‘A’ for what they were able to pull off. This depends entirely on getting all six players signed, of course, but I don’t know that they would have taken the risks they did (fifth rounder Colt Keith, in particular) if they were not sure of getting everyone under contract.
Brandon: Overall I’ll give them an A, because giving a B+ feels a little stingy. There are some picks I would’ve preferred went a different way, but landing Workman and Keith in the fourth and fifth round really baked more upside into the Tigers draft class. They didn’t force anything or do anything weird. Instead they had the best seat in the house as players dropped to them, and they just lay in the cut and took them as they fell.
Patrick: They get an A overall. Best draft I can remember in at least 25 years for the Tigers.
Adam: I’ll give this draft an “A”. Hard to give a plus on top of that when you’re dealing with the top pick of the draft and each round, but the team made what looks like solid decisions with the limited draft pool this year. I’ll deduct one letter grade for each player who does not sign, though, when that time comes.
Trevor: A. The Tigers had the best draft of any team in my opinion. They did such a good job just letting the draft come to them, taking the guy that fell to them and not balking at the chance. You could realistically look at any of the non-Torkelson picks and make a case that they shouldn’t have been there at the time they were taken.
Zane: A+. Best draft of the Avila era by far and I felt like they nailed just about every pick that they made. May the prospect odds be in our favor.
Brady: It seems that everyone and their mother has agreed that the Tigers had one of the three best— if not THE best — drafts this year. The only argument for giving this crop of players anything worse than an ‘A’ would be because the draft was 1/8th its usual length, but everyone dealt with that (unfortunately). Given the circumstances and the embarrassment of position-player riches they came away with — including perhaps four of the top 75 players in the whole dang pool and one of the best pure hitters in recent draft history — it’s an A+ from me.