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Detroit Tigers 2018 MLB Draft Grades

Image credit: Casey Mize (Photo by Tom DiPace)

Best Pure Hitter:  2B Kody Clemens (3) had a breakout year at the plate for Texas last spring, as he hit .351. And he followed it up with an impressive pro debut as he hit .288/.365/.450 while making it to high Class A. He handles the bat very well and has a feel for the strike zone giving him a chance to be a plus hitter.

Best Power Hitter:  OF Brock Deatherage (10) showed solid power at N.C. State as he hit 14 home runs in 60 games. His above-average productive power (and plus raw power) didn’t disappoint in his first cameo in the minors. He hit four home runs in just two games in the Gulf Coast League. His power did tail off as he moved up (he hit three more home runs in 58 games between the New York-Penn and Midwest Leagues), but he looks to be an excellent senior sign as a center fielder with power.

Fastest Runner:  OF Parker Meadows (2) is a plus runner who uses that speed to cover plenty of ground in center field.

Best Defensive Player: Meadows should be able to stick in center field as a rangy defender. He has a plus arm and takes solid routes.

Best Fastball:  RHP Casey Mize (1) has a plus fastball that gets some plus-plus grades thanks to his ability to locate it with above-average command and control. RHP Hugh Smith (6) has a plus fastball that touches 97. At 6-foot-10 he gets excellent extension which helps it seem even harder than its premium velocity.

Best Secondary Pitch: Not many pitchers throw the splitter any more and even fewer can use it as a weapon. RHP Casey Mize (1) has a plus-plus splitter that was the key to his domination of the Southeastern Conference when he was at Auburn. It’s a swing-and-miss pitch.

Best Pro Debut:  LHP Tarik Skubal (9) had control problems at Seattle, but he had no problems in pro baseball. He went 3-0, 0.40 in 22.1 innings across three stops. His 92-95 mph fastball and slider helped him rack up 33 strikeouts an only four walks.

Best Athlete:  OF Kingston Liniak (4) is an above-average runner with a loose, athletic body that has room for some projection, although he faces questions as to how much power he will develop. Meadows is a center fielder who can gobble up distance with long strides.

Most Intriguing Background: While he isn’t a pitcher like his father was, Kody Clemens (3) hopes to have his own impactful career in baseball. Coming from a baseball family, Kody is known for having a great feel for the game at second base. Smith was not seen as a prospect in high school, but he went from 5-foot-11, 145 pounds as a 16-year-old to 6-foot-10, 215-pounds as a college junior, which is why he was the top prospect in Division III baseball.

Closest to the Majors: After having major success at Auburn, Mize (1) figures to advance through the minors quickly. With quality command and a good mix of pitches, the righty figures to be a big factor in the Tigers rotation before too long.

Best Late Round Pick:  RHP Ethan DeCaster (18) pitched very well across four levels of the minors after being drafted out of Duke in the 18th round. He only walked 6 batters in 39 innings while striking out 39 batters, reaching high Class A level before the season ended.

The One Who Got Away:  The Tigers signed all but two picks. RHP Cole Henry (38) did not sign with Detroit, choosing to attend Louisiana State University instead. The big bodied righty features a three-pitch mix and a low to mid 90’s fastball that he will work to polish in the college circuit.

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