It’s mock draft season, y’all! That means the draft is right around the corner and a new crop of prospects are getting ready to join the Detroit Tigers farm system. It’s an exciting time as we inch closer and closer to the real MLB Draft which is a three day event that starts with the first round on July 17th where Detroit will select 12th overall.
As the draft gets closer pundits big and small start to release their revised first round mocks. An effort in futility most of the time. There’s a lot that can happen between now and when the draft starts. That’s why you shouldn’t let what any of the mock drafts say freak you out. No one knows anything yet, especially for a team picking where the Tigers are.
I’m going to be honest, some of these mocks have the Tigers taking pitching and from what I saw on Twitter it did not go over well. So, there are two important points to make before diving in to the latest mock draft results for the Tigers. One is that you don’t draft for need in baseball, there’s just generally too much elapsed time between getting drafted and MLB debuts. That means Detroit might take a pitcher in the first round and that is okay. It’s okay to have a lot of depth in one area, you can never have enough arms.
And that brings me to my second important point: The first round pick will not make or break hitting development. There will be hitters that get drafted by Detroit at some point. Developing hitters is the important part, not necessarily where they’re picked. If the Tigers are finally going to start producing good hitters with any regularity, that has to come from the new player development staff. There just isn’t going to be a slam dunk bat available to them here.
There are three websites these mock drafts are coming from, MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, and Prospects Live. Two of the pundits have the Tigers selecting a pitcher at 12th overall, and Prospects Live even has Detroit doubling down on arms at 51st overall. It’s mock draft season, baby.
RHP Brock Porter, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS
As of the most recent update by MLB Pipeline from June 30th, the Tigers take the hometown kid Brock Porter. The arm talent here is unbelievable. His fastball has been up to 99 MPH with a lot of life to it and he matches it with a huge changeup. He also features two breaking balls with his slider receiving higher marks than his curveball.
He was a Gatorade National Player of the Year, and Perfect Game USA named Porter the National Pitcher of the Year following a 9-0 record with 115 strikeouts and a 0.36 ERA. He was a dominant high school arm, so those stats are all but expected. But still, pretty insane numbers.
NATIONAL PITCHER OF THE YEAR— Perfect Game USA (@PerfectGameUSA) July 1, 2022
115 Ks@BrockPorter10 led our 2022 National Champions @OLSMBaseball to a perfect 44-0 season! pic.twitter.com/Yy7x9KUV9B
Porter has a great pitcher’s body, a starter’s arsenal, spectacular stuff, and he’s from the Detroit area. That can be a hard combination to pass up. If there ever were a reason, drafting prep arms in back to back years is a dangerous game. It’s historically the riskiest option available. The reality is that this guy is in the Tigers backyard, they have no excuse not to have seen him more than anyone. If this is the guy, then he’s the guy.
It’s worth noting he does seem to have some of the traits and data this front office has been coveting lately. They will have to sign him away from his commitment to Clemson.
OF Justin Crawford, Bishop Gorman HS
The lone mock draft where the Tigers take a hitter belongs to Baseball America. This mock last updated on July 1st. Speed, power, and MLB bloodlines? Crawford has it all. He’s the son of four-time All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford. Justin is extremely talented in his own right, with some of the same skills. Elite speed runs in the family. See what I did there? The swing is reminiscent of his father, too.
As high school prospects tend to do, Crawford keeps getting bigger. With that has come more raw power and improved contact skills at the plate. His power is reportedly mostly to his pull side at this point. The selling point here is that Crawford is tooled up and comes with some serious upside. His ceiling is as high as anyone in this class because of that. He also comes with inherent risk as a prep bat with questions about his contact abilities.
I’m not sure this would be the route the Tigers actually go, but if they do they’ve got some serious upside coming their way. Baseball America mentions Brock Porter as another option as well as any college bat that might fall out of the top 10. By name they mention Gavin Cross or Jace Jung.
Justin Crawford (‘22, NV) showcasing his elite speed on this inside-the-park HR the outfielder has first round potential and currently ranks 10th overall in the class #PGDraft @B_Sakowski_PG @vcervinoPG pic.twitter.com/ezswr88wUy— Perfect Game Four Corners (@PG_FourCorners) April 28, 2022
RHP Cade Horton, Oklahoma
In this mock draft, the Tigers dip into the college pool and a recent riser. Prospects Live just updated their mock on July 5th and they go two rounds deep, predicting the Tigers double up on college arms by taking RHP Jonathan Cannon from Georgia 51st overall.
Cade Horton is another arm that fits the bill of what Detroit’s front office has been targeting lately. His fastball is metrically good, and his breaking ball is high spin. Both traits that last year’s first round pick Jackson Jobe had. This time, however, it’s from a college arm. His fastball projects in the mid-90’s. The two pitch mix served him well, especially down the stretch of the college season. This is likely a very intriguing option for the Tigers if the draft shakes out this way.
After going undrafted out of high school because of signability questions, Horton tore his UCL and missed the 2021 season. He was used sparingly while recovering, but in June he was unleashed. When that happened, his draft stock jumped up in a big way. He’s very athletic and certainly showed why he was such a highly touted prep prospect as both a hitter and a pitcher.
The Prospects Live mock also mentions Connor Prielipp as an option or any college bat that falls. What’s interesting is they say that the Tigers are really hoping LSU’s Jacob Berry falls to them.
Oklahoma will be fine. They've got Cade Horton on the bump tomorrow, quite possibly the hottest MLB Draft prospect in the country right now. Stock WAY up.— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) June 26, 2022
Last 4 starts? 23.2 IP, 36 K, 6 BB, 7 ER... 0.972 WHIP
He will *skyrocket* in our Top 600 update.pic.twitter.com/vJcgF2XDlm
Don’t Mock The Mocks
Just remember, if any mock draft gets a handful of picks correct it’s considered a successful mock. No one really knows the actual plan outside of the organization’s war room. The bonus pools come into play, players will fall. It’s all a guess until it actually happens. There’s no need to panic about any selection in a mock draft. They aren’t real.
These mocks do bring up the hard fact that the Tigers might take a pitcher. Which isn’t a bad course of action if that’s who they deem to be the best available. I can’t stress enough that taking a hitter isn’t a make or break decision. If the hitting development is good, then they can find hitters later in the draft. It’s very unlikely that there isn’t a hitter to fall to them, but if that doesn’t happen then there’s nothing wrong with bolstering the arms, especially with the proven success of developing them that the organization has shown lately.
We’ll know for sure what happens on July 17th. Until then, it’s all just entertainment.