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Best Pure Hitter: The Tigers went pitcher heavy at the top of the 2021 draft, but shortstop Izaac Pacheco (2) was the team’s top bat. While Pacheco’s offensive upside might be higher, first baseman and outfielder Austin Murr (6) is likely the most polished hitter in the class at the moment. He’s shown strong on-base ability with North Carolina State and had a strong pro debut, hitting .319/.440/.393 between the Florida Complex League, Low-A Southeast and High-A Central.
Best Power Hitter: Pacheco was seen as a power-over-hit bat as an amatuer, but he has a chance to get to 70-grade raw power in the future with a powerful swing and already filled out and strong 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame. Catcher Josh Crouch (11) showed plus raw power in batting practice at MLB’s Draft Combine, hit 15 homers with Central Florida during the spring and hit a pair of homers in 24 games with Low-A Lakeland during his pro debut.
Fastest Runner: Outfielder and second baseman Austin Schultz (10) is a plus runner who went 37-for-43 (86%) in stolen base attempts during his career with Kentucky. He went 4-for-4 in his pro debut, while outfielder Ben Malgeri (18) also racked up plenty of stolen bases in his collegiate career with Holy Cross and Northeastern. He went 32-for-39 (82%) for those teams, and swiped six bags in eight tries in his pro debut this summer.
Best Defensive Player: Pacheco is a bigger shortstop and there’s a chance he could outgrow the position but he has solid hands, athleticism and plus arm strength that could serve him well at the position or even better at third—where he has above-average defensive potential. He exclusively played shortstop this summer in the FCL. The Tigers like Crouch’s defensive ability behind the plate as well. He threw out 40% of baserunners with Low-A Lakeland.
Best Secondary Pitch: Jobe possesses one of the best amateur sliders scouts have seen in recent memory. It’s a 3,000 rpm, wipeout offering that has earned plus-plus grades with excellent depth, bite and feel. It was fairly easily the best breaking ball in the 2021 prep class and has a strong argument as the best breaking ball in the 2021 class overall as well. The sliders from Madden and righthander Dylan Smith (3) are both potential 60-grade pitches.
Best Pro Debut: Murr advanced to High-A West Michigan and continued to show the on-base skills that made him such a valuable leadoff hitter in college. He walked near as many times (27) as he struck out (29) and showed more in-game pop at the highest level he played at in his pro debut.
Best Athlete: The Tigers drafted a number of impressive athletes. Jobe was a two-way player in high school who was a legitimate shortstop prospect before he took off as a pitcher. He also played quarterback. Pacheco stands out for how well he moves in the field given his size, while Smith does the same on the mound, with impressive body control and hand speed. Outfielder JD McLaughlin (20) has elite athleticism with 70-grade speed and arm strength.
Most Intriguing Background: Jobe’s father, Brandt, is a professional golfer and righthander Jack Anderson’s (16) father, Peter, was a professional soccer player.
Closest To The Majors: Madden has the sort of physicality and present stuff that could allow him to move through the system quickly, while Kohlhepp was a multi-inning relief ace for Notre Dame and could move quickly in the bullpen.
Best Late-Round Pick (Or NDFA): The Tigers are excited about both of their day three catchers, Crouch and Michael Rothenberg (12), who hit .267/.391/.378 in 29 games in the FCL and Low-A Southeast. Another name to keep an eye on is righthander RJ Petit (13), a massive pitcher with a fastball to match.
The One Who Got Away: Detroit signed each of its 21 draft picks.