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Tigers 2020 Draft Preview: Will Detroit Choose Austin Martin Or Spencer Torkelson?

Image credit: Riley Greene (Photo by Tom DiPace)

Unlike the NBA or NFL drafts, MLB teams do not draft for immediate need. There’s good reason for that, as even the most MLB-ready draft prospects usually take two seasons to get fully established in the majors. But as we ready for the 2020 MLB draft, it is useful to look at where teams are deep and where they are thin at the MLB and minor league level.

Also of note: 

2020 MLB Draft Prospect Rankings | Updated 2020 Mock Draft | Baseball America’s Draft Database

2020 ORG TALENT RANK: 11th

2019 MLB RECORD: 47-114

STATE OF THE SYSTEM: Steadily rising. After placing 30th in BA’s annual Organizational Talent Rankings in 2015, the Tigers have used a boatload of shrewd draft picks and trades to steadily climb up the ladder. Entering the 2020 season, Detroit’s system ranks 11th and has five Top 100 Prospects. The latter group includes two pitchers—Casey Mize (13) and Matt Manning (17)—ranked among the top 25 prospects in the game.

See The Tigers Top 30 Prospects. 

BEST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: OF Nick Castellanos (first round, 2010). Until some of the team’s next wave of prospects debut, this honor goes to Castellanos. Taken with the Tigers’ first-round selection in 2010, Castellanos placed eighth in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 2014, and hit 104 home runs for the Tigers before he was traded to the Cubs in the middle of last season.

WORST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: RHP Jonathon Crawford (first round, 2013). The Tigers, frankly, whiffed on a lot of picks in the first half of the decade. Right now, the worst of that group has to be Crawford. The Florida alum was drafted in the first round in 2013, was traded to the Reds (with Eugenio Suarez!) and struggled with his new organization as well. Crawford last pitched in 2017, when he went 0-10, 5.65 in high Class A.

DEEPEST POSITION(S): Pitching. Like Jean-Ralphio and his cash, the Tigers are flush with pitching. Beyond Mize and Manning, Detroit also houses elite lefthander Tarik Skubal, bounceback righty Alex Faedo and a host of other interesting pitching prospects. Righty Franklin Perez has potential if he can stay healthy, and Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser still have some upside as well. Lefty Joey Wentz belongs in that group, too, but will have to wait while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

WEAKEST POSITION(S): First base. The Tigers have no obvious first baseman in waiting. Not only do they not have a member of their Top 30 Prospects at the position, they only have one player—Reynaldo Rivera—on the depth chart. That could change very quickly in this year’s draft.

DRAFT TRENDS: With top five picks in each of the last two seasons (plus the 1-1 pick this year), the Tigers’ strategy has been to go for the best player on the board. In 2018, that was Mize. In 2019, they went with sweet-swinging outfielder Riley Greene, out of high school in Florida. This year, they’re likely to go back to the college well again when they take either Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson or Vanderbilt center fielder Austin Martin.


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