The Detroit Tigers wrapped up their 2023 MLB draft selections last Tuesday in Scott Harris’ first draft at the helm of the Motor City Kitties. The results were far from what was expected as well given the plethora of prep players taken in this summer’s selection process.
The biggest bombshell came with the Olde English D’s first pick — coming third overall — which it used to select high schooler Max Clark over University of Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford, who was a consensus top-three prospect that many believed might be taken first overall. While the announcement stunned the fanbase, many quickly became enamored with the superlative young athlete.
A couple days after the end of the draft, the Bless You Boys roundtable convened to get an idea of where the staff stands now that the dust has settled. Take a look below at our discussion and how each one of us feels bout this year’s draft.
Ashley MacLennan: I don’t believe in anything, I feel we are locked in eternal torment. Never trust prospects.
Trevor Hooth: It was shocking. I mean Wyatt Langford was right there. But I’ve grown to really like the decision to draft Max Clark. Following it up with McGonigle was very good. The org seems high on Anderson, too. So from day one, they added some really good prospects. It’s risk/reward here because they went super prep heavy. With a hefty number of the organization's top prospects in the upper minors, I think they did a good job restocking the lower levels without giving up potential. We’ll see how signing goes, but overall I think this class could be a ton of fun and it’ll start with Max Clark.
It’s worth noting there wasn’t one kind of swing they were targeting. Clark/McGonigle have really good bat-to-ball skills, but they also drafted some players with very physical swings like Rucker or Farris, for example.
Peter Kwasniak: I said before the draft I wanted them to pick the best available player. I was so fixated on immediate impact I think I talked myself into completely ignoring the two prep bats. Having read more on Clark, I think they did take the true best available. If Crews was there at 3, they might end up having picked him instead, but Clark could be really special. The next franchise star. And Clark could be a fast riser so there may not be a big difference between Langford and Clark’s arrival time after all. We will see. Seems like this is going to end up being Jobe vs. Meyer again for at least the next year or so on the old intertube debates.
Brady McAtamney: I can respect that Harris went bold. He didn’t make a lot of safe picks, which can lead to this being either a great class or an absolute dud. I’m not sure there’ll be much in between.
A lot of the players they took are super toolsy. Max Clark has the makings of a perennial all-star, and he could get to the bigs quicker than most high schoolers thanks to his projectable skills and center-field ability. Some of the other high school guys they took put up major numbers and have abilities that could certainly be refined into big-league ready. Things are now in the hands of… gulp… the Tigers developmental team.
If I had to give it a grade, I’d go somewhere in the B range.
Mr. Sunshine: I think this is the first major test of the new regime, and of the development staff they’ve stocked the minor leagues with. High risk-high reward draftees this class, it feels like, and Harris must have major faith in his newly implemented systems. The kicker is, we won’t know for 3-5 years how this class turns out.
I’m not sure on it, as I’m not a prospects guy, but it’s certainly an interesting all-in type move by Harris for his first draft.
Brady: I also don’t mind the idea of stocking up the lower parts of the minors. As of now, the farm is very top-heavy with the only “good” prospects (aka projected MLB contributors) below AA being Jung and Jobe.
Zane Harding: I love the hit tool focus, and it feels better than when I couldn’t find a common “thru-line” for Avila drafts. Here’s hoping Clark uses all five tools.
Trevor: To your point, Zane, I like that they drafted a mixed bag and not just one archetype. Guys like Max Clark and Kevin McGonigle lean more towards hit tool as they’re carrying tool right now. Power projection may happen. But they also drafted guys who have very physical swings and huge raw power like Carson Rucker and Ethan Farris.
David Rosenberg: I know that this is where I’m supposed to concede that Max Clark is indeed a good pick, but I can’t help but grumble after another clear indication that this franchise is comfortable taking things slow. Scott Harris deserves some patience, but the fan base also deserves to be impatient. Not an ideal scenario.
Still, I’m a big fan of the McGonigle pick and think that the new team-building philosophy at the top will pay off.
P.S. I’m a Rangers fan now. Go, Wyatt Langford!
Jay Markle: Much to the chagrin of my fellow BYB’ers, I’ve been advocating all draft season that Max Clark is a very good player who has the exact attributes Harris has taught us he enjoys in a young player. While I have to admit that it burns a little bit to see him picked over Langford, I’m extremely happy to have Clark in the system.
I think we’d be remiss to overlook just how good of a pick McGonigle is, though. Like Clark, he’s remarkably well-rounded for a teenage prospect. It’s refreshing to finally have a player with both definite shortstop skills and legitimate offensive upside in the pipeline. Clark is obviously the better prospect at this stage, but my opinion, McGonigle was the best pick of the Tigers’ whole draft class.
I’m fascinated by how willing Detroit was to bet on its development staff. I love their choice to grab talented high schoolers of every stripe in the later rounds. Was it a good draft? I have no idea, there’s so much that can go wrong in player development to begin with and the team is just leaning into that risk. But it was sure as heck an interesting one.
Patrick O’Kennedy: My wish was that the Tigers would take Langford or Crews, and not a high school player. Part of the reason is that HS players are typically farther away from the majors, and part is that so many things can go wrong on the way up. That being said, the consensus seems to be that Clark has the higher upside vs Langford.
My own observation is that the particular skills that he does possess are speed, arm strength, and fielding ability. Those tools could be MLB-ready already, with very little refinement needed. The question then is how quickly the hit and power tools reach MLB level, and that’s where the college bats have a big advantage.
n the quest for instant gratification, I really wanted the college bat, and one that would be up next season. Then again, Riley Greene was a HS player, Tork was a college player, and Riley has the edge so far. What do I know?
Frisbee Pilot: All I know is that when I read the name “McGonigle,” I think of that clip from the Simpsons in which they show a Dirty Harry-like character named McGarnagle. I realize that’s a stupid point but I’m not really into the draft, so.
Brandon Day: I feel good that they were unpredictable. If this is the group to take us to a level of consistent farm production, they’re going to do surprising things. There was a lot of smartest guy in the room that went on. That’s bold because if things don’t look good two years from now, there’s nowhere to hide.
So I guess I’m glad overall that they went their own way.
Fielder’s Choice: /fleetwood mac’d
Jay: I agree with everything that Brandon said, with the caveat that I trust Harris/Metzler/Connor to actually be the smartest in the room far more than Avila/Chadd/Littlefield.
Brandon: Yeah, a given. At least they did their thing. We’ll know how right they were.
Peter: If they really are committed to the long game with this rebuild 2.0, this is the correct draft strategy for the first few years. Flood the pipeline with high upside. Cause if it works, whoo boy you’ve got a hell of a team.
Adam Dubbin: I’ll wrap this session up by adding that I still really, really hate picking Clark over Langford, and I truly think it will come back to haunt the franchise. That said, the rest of the picks seem good though the heavy focus on high schoolers has me concerned that the success horizon is still indeed a ways away.
Now that you have had a few days to process the draft and hear what we have to say, let us know how you feel in the comments below!