The one thing we can all be happy about is that Scott Harris is the absolute opposite of Al Avila. Al Avila waited so long to be given a shot at being the GM and when given the chance, totally screwed the pooch! I have reviewed his drafts, his interernational signings, his trades and his free agent signings. He will go down as one of the worst GM’s in any sport and when you add in that the Lion’s had Matt Millen and the Pistons had Stan Van Gundy, Detroit sports had three of the worst GM’s all around the same time. No wonder all of our teams were circling the drain!
I know that number 1 overall picks are not a sure thing but the player selected absolutely needs to be a starter on the team within 3 years. Under Al Avila, the Tiger’s have had two number 1 overall, a 3,5,9,12,18. He drafted pitchers 4 times and twice they were high school pitchers. As of 2023, only one player has the making of an All Star which is Riley Greene. What’s worse, he drafted a RH power hitting 1b which is dumb on multiple levels. First, Comerica Park is not kind to RH power hitters and you don’t draft a 1b number 1 overall. I wrote this many times before the draft when it so obvious that Al Avila was going to draft him even though the premium positions of SS and OF was drastically in need of a high end prospects. The best teams load up on premium positions and especially high up in the draft. The SS premium postion is usually your best athlete and they can be switched to 2b, 3b or CF if they grow too big and less flexible as they mature. The best teams draft those positions and either use them for their team or trade them.
Al Avila did so poorly with these picks (with the exception of Riley), that Scott Harris has to rebuild the rebuild. Yes, it is that bad and for good reason. Had Al Avila simply loaded up on the best SS or OF prospects with all 7 of his number 1 picks, the TIger’s would have had a few more players up at the MLB level and a few more guys that could have been used in trades. The Tiger’s best pitchers in their system were not number 1 picks or even number 2 picks.
If you go look at the Tiger’s past 30 year history of their number 1 picks, the only pitcher that stands out is Justin Verlander and he was definitely the exception to the rule. He was obviously so good even Dave D wanted him badly and was not about to trade him for anything, I am hoping that in this year’s draft that Scott Harris does not follow the horrible history of the Tiger’s organization and use their number 3 pick on a pitcher. Although, from what I gather, there is one that is reminding people of a Justin Verlander and his name is Chase Dolllander. If he is there at 3, Scott Harrris will have a very difficult decision to make for sure. I love Dylan Crews, Jacob Gonazalez, Walker Jenkins, Wyatt Langford, Max Clark and at least a few should be available at 3. Walker Jenkins and Max Clark are special high school bats and both hit from the left side.
I am not sure if Scott Harris will take the best college player or just take the player with the most upside, Taking a high school bat is more of a long term play but it could pay higher dividends. College bats from top schools are a little more predictable and I guess that’s why so many teams passed on on Mike Trout. Whatever Scott Harris does in his first draft isn’t as important as the body of his work in the next 3 years. He has a daunting task of getting rid of the Al Avila type players that were high floor guys that seem to stall out at AAA. The few times he did take a player with more upside in the 2nd rounds, he whiffed badly with players like Rey Rivera. Al Avila was a stubborn old school GM that never understood risk/reward and his passive nature was not suited for an aggressive market. It was only out of the other teams desperation did he actually come away with a few good trades, Ultimatley his lack of drafting ability, his tardiness to player development & analytics cost him his job. However, we should all give Scott Harris the time he needs and deserves regardless of Al Avila’s gigantic hole that was left behind.
Spring Training is getting closer and maybe a few guys make a splash and surprise us all. More likely, it’s just going to be all out battle of castoffs and young guys trying to make the squad because of the lack of talent. In any case, it will be fun to watch Greene and Torkelson come to camp ready to put their stamp on the team and maybe a few guys are better than everyone thinks.