2017 MLB Draft Grades: Detroit Tigers
Best Pure Hitter: C Sam McMillan (5) showed he was one of the most advanced hitters in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in his pro debut. His simple swing generates a lot of line-drive contact, but his most apparent tool is a very discerning batting eye. He walked more than he struck out in his pro debut and looks to be a solid defensive catcher with excellent on-base skills.
Best Power: 1B Reynaldo Rivera (2) faced questions from some amateur scouts about his bat speed, but few questioned his raw power. Rivera hit 20 home runs at Chipola (Fla.) JC this spring, although he looked tired and overmatched at short-season Connecticut, where he hit only two home runs in 52 games while slashing .187/.261/.280.
Fastest Runner: OF Ro Coleman (34) is a double-plus runner who probably is the fastest Tigers draftee in a foot race. OF Luke Burch (9) is a plus runner and has a little more base-stealing savvy than Coleman. He swiped eight bases in nine tries in his pro debut.
Best Defensive Player: C Joey Morgan (3) turns in above-average pop times on his throws. He did allow seven passed balls in 34 pro games, but that’s partly an artifact of catching wild young arms.
Best Fastball: RHP Alex Faedo (1) saw his fastball velocity dip early in the spring of his junior season, but it bounced back to 92-94 mph by the postseason and he touches 98. His fastball is most notable for its excellent life that makes it hard to square him up. The Tigers rested him after signing as he threw 123.2 innings while leading Florida to the national championship. LHP Max Green (8) and RHP Billy Lescher (17) will both touch 96 mph.
Best Secondary Pitch: Faedo’s 83-84 mph slider was one of the best in the draft. He has shown the ability to tone down its break to throw it for strikes or tighten up the break and bury it in the dirt as a strikeout pitch.
Best Athlete: RHP Dane Myers (6) was an infielder as well as pitcher for Rice who was a draftable prospect as a hitter in addition to being a top 10-round talent as a pitcher.
Best Pro Debut: McMillan hit .288/.441/.432 with the GCL Tigers. Carlton had a sparkling 1.08 ERA and a 29-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 innings between the GCL, New York-Penn and Midwest Leagues.
Josh Turley Finds A Friend In The Knuckleball
Turley made a last-ditch effort to save his career by becoming the rare lefthanded knuckleballer. Now, he is on the Tigers' radar.
Best Late-Round Pick: After two seasons in the Florida State rotation, RHP Drew Carlton (32) moved to the bullpen and had more success as he simplified to a low-90s fastball-cutter approach. Neither is a true plus pitch, but both are effective as he challenges hitters.
Most Intriguing Background: Lescher’s father William is a Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy; the former test pilot is a deputy chief of naval operations. 3B Colby Bortles (22) brother is the younger brother of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.