With the third overall pick in the 2021 draft, the Detroit Tigers have selected high school right-handed pitcher Jackson Jobe. An 18-year-old from Heritage Hall High School, he’s been linked to the team over and over again for weeks and is now the newest member of the Tigers organization.
Jobe offers some of the best pure stuff in the 2021 draft class, with a pitch mix that includes a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. He throws them with elite spin and gets lots of movement on his breaking stuff. The slider reportedly crests 3000 rpm and is undoubtedly his strikeout pitch. He is also able to pump high velocities when needed, and already bumps 97 miles per hour despite his immature build. As a good athlete on the mound with a repeatable delivery, the building blocks are there for him to develop above-average control as well.
3. Tigers: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Okla. HS. Top prep arm in the class, potentially 80-grade slider, into upper 90’s this spring, CB/CH both project above average, spin data is absurd, case to be made this is the highest pure upside pick in the class. #DetroitRoots #PGDraft— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) July 11, 2021
One cause for concern outside of the obvious risk that accompanies any high school pitcher is the fact that his fastball movement profile is non-ideal for a modern pitcher. The best strikeout pitchers throw rising fastballs, whereas Jobe’s tails away from the batter. The pitch isn’t likely to draw as many whiffs as one might assume based on his spin rates and excellent velocity.
There’s likely to be some hand-wringing about the league’s crackdown on usage of sticky substances to alter spin rates, but that is unlikely to be much of a problem with Jobe. Alteration of the ball is highly uncommon at the high school level. Even if he was using the most effective substances, the reduction of spin by quitting cold turkey would still leave him with rates far above average.
What makes this pick puzzling is that the Tigers were reportedly enamored with shortstop Marcelo Mayer, who was projected to be the first overall pick and was still on the board when they selected Jobe. Many felt that it was essentially common knowledge that Detroit would select Mayer no matter what if he was available with the third pick, so the fact that they passed on him comes as something of a shock.
The likely reasoning behind this pick is twofold. First of all, the Tigers have confidence in their ability to develop pitchers, and Jobe could be a real monster if he reaches his peak. Secondly, the signing bonus for Jobe will almost certainly come in well under his slot value. Thus, they can spend big on future picks when a talented player inevitably falls below his expected draft range.