As the Tigers draft wrapped up, the headliners were, of course, the Tigers’ top two picks, Jace Jung and Peyton Graham. Those players represent only a fraction of the team’s overall draft haul, all of whom were taken from college programs, and as they filter into pro ball, some should make it to the High-A West Michigan Whitecaps fairly quickly.
As the most visitor-oriented experience among the Tigers’ minor league affiliates, players who perform well on the the Whitecaps’ roster wind up collecting fans among attendees. Players at the High-A level are often long-shots at best to play in the major leagues, but who cares? That doesn’t change how much fun it is to watch a young hitter with advanced ball/strike recognition, or a pitcher who can spot an inside fast ball tear it up in Grand Rapids.
While Jung and Graham should be prepared to start in West Michigan, and will be featured attractions this summer, they won’t be alone among the 2022 draft class. Next time you take a trek out to LMCU Ballpark this season or next, keep an eye out for these players entering Detroit’s prospect pipeline. They’re likely to become fan favorites in the very near future.
1B Andrew Jenkins
Scouts who went to Georgia Tech to see eventual Mets’ first round catcher Kevin Parada were regularly treated to a show from Andrew Jenkins as well. Jenkins became the Tigers’ ninth round draft pick, but he was rated by multiple scouting services as a talent worthy of a much higher draft status. The former Yellow Jackets’ infielder hits massive dongs and has a golden flow worthy of Mjölnir, and really, what more can you ask of a ninth-rounder?
Jenkins is a bit of an oddity on the diamond. He has the strikeout rates and the unleashed power of a three true outcomes hitter. As you’d expect, he puts a hurtin’ on fastballs that miss inside the zone, but he’s able to change speeds as well and has been known to clobber a cambio or two in his day. Developmentally speaking, the trick will be getting him to whiff on fewer breaking balls. In the short-term, that’s probably not an issue, as many pitchers in the low minors can’t spot a breaking ball consistently to save their life.
This is basically the recipe for a local legend, and we’re all here for it.
SS Danny Serretti
The Tigers drafted Danny Serretti with their sixth round pick, taking a gamble that his senior year offensive exposition represents a permanent improvement in his game. If that’s the case, Serretti was basically made to kill low minors pitchers. He combines a short stroke and quick hands with a mature approach at the plate. The upside here is a line drive hitter who can smoke the ball to all fields. It’s not the archetype of a modern plate presence, but Serretti isn’t going to Saratoga himself, which is a major edge against the young pitchers who are trying to get their body under control.
At North Carolina, he was able to stick at a premium position because he gets the most of his athleticism through max effort play. That’s not always projectable to the highest levels of the game — though the Tigers likely think he can make it work judging by where they took him in the draft — but there’s no question that it will make for entertaining baseball in West Michigan. Gritty defense up the middle is one of the most entertaining things the sport can offer and that’s something Serretti brings in spades.
LHP Joe Miller
Joe Miller is a smaller lefty who throws a three pitch mix. He’s senior sign prospect from the Ivy League who took the bump both for the Savannah Bananas and the Cape Cod League, Miller has a ton of experience and it shows in how effectively he uses his offspeed offerings. He doesn’t throw much of a changeup, but his curveball and slider earned him a strikeout rate north of 11 per nine innings. That’s a big feat for a pitcher who has to keep his opponent off his 89-92 mile per hour fastball.
The pro projection for Miller isn’t sky-high, but like Serretti, he’s gonna feast on whatever High-A teams offer him. Mediocre fastball velocity isn’t all that usual in the lower levels of the minors, so he save his breaking pitches for important moments without needing to be afraid of what happens when he goes to the fastball. That’s not to mention how much fun he has playing the game and how well-liked he is by his teammates. Even in the stands, that kind of energy is noticeable. I’m personally excited to see him throw.
Joe Miller of UPenn started and looked better than the numbers suggest: 3.2IP, 4ER, 3BB, 6K. He trailed off in his last two in ha of work, but the ivy leaguer showed two good breaking balls and a low 90s fastball. I’ll have a longer write up on him soon pic.twitter.com/t4QYDizyuy— Cape Cod Baseball Scouting | Daniel Garcia (@CapeScouting) June 24, 2022