More than any other team in baseball, the Detroit Tigers had the opportunity to land the big ticket in the 2020 MLB Draft. With the first overall pick, Detroit snagged the clear number one and best player available on the market. Very similar to the Milwaukee Brewers’ draft they prioritized offense from top to bottom with six selections all going towards bats. After loading up on young talent in the past few drafts, the Tigers finally look to have a solid foundation building in their farm system.
Round 1, Pick 1: Spencer Torkelson 3B Arizona State
At every single level of baseball, Spencer Torkelson has proven to be an elite hitter in all facets. He is as strong of a power threat as there is at the collegiate level, hitting 54 homers in three years at Arizona State. Scouts rave about not only his raw power (65) but his overall hitting (60) and ability to control at-bats.
With a .351/.446/.707 slash line, 17 doubles and 23 homers in his last full season at ASU, Torkelson was arguably the best bat in the country. He has offensive skills that you cannot teach in a young player such as plate presence and the ability to hit to all fields. Besides the difference in size, there is a lot of similarities in Kris Bryant‘s game. Both players are middle-of-the-order bats who not only have unteachable power but excellent approaches.
Round 2, Pick 38: Dillon Dingler C Ohio State
At the conclusion of Day One of the draft, Dillon Dingler was at the top of everybody’s best available list. The Tigers led things off on Day Two as strongly as they did on Day One selecting the backstop out of Ohio State. This was tremendous value yet again for Detroit who drafted the 24th-best player according to MLB.com at pick 38.
More than most players, Dingler was really hurt by the canceled 2020 season that he was absolutely tearing up. In his shortened junior campaign he hit a career-high .340, with four doubles, five home runs, and 14 RBI. The 6’3″ and 210-pound catcher is as balanced as they come across the board as a quality hitter (50) with a cannon (65). When you combine athleticism from the backstop position and the ability to hit for surprising power, Willson Contreras is a reasonable comp.
Round 2, Pick 62: Daniel Cabrera OF LSU
The Tigers made a theme out of finding steals in the second round of this year’s draft after taking Daniel Cabrera with their Competitive Balance pick. The 38th-best player according to MLB.com fell to pick 62 despite having true first-round potential. The lefty was the most gifted hitter on the LSU roster graded by scouts highly (55) with power potential (50).
Cabrera’s career numbers in college made up an impressive major league stat line over the course of 162 games. In three seasons he slashed .305/.392/.518 with 22 homers and 33 doubles. Adding another element to his game, the outfielder has also impressed with his arm strength (55) which should land him in right in the bigs. Comparison wise, there is a former fellow SEC outfielder who looks an awful lot like him. Arkansas’ Andrew Benintendi received similar grades coming out of college from scouts. The Boston lefty was graded strongest at the plate (60) with power potential (50) and great fielding ability (60).
Round 3, Pick 73: Trei Cruz SS Rice
Trei Cruz was groomed for the majors from the time he was born into a multi-generational MLB family. The 126th-best prospect according to MLB.com went much earlier than expected in round three. This is a gifted switch-hitting shortstop who projects as a contact (50) overpower (45) guy.
This is a prospect who does not excel at any particular facet of his game. Cruz is solid across the board but lacks that “it” factor to set him apart in a position group that requires it. Cruz is not the fastest runner (45) nor the best fielder (45) which reminds me of a prospect who is still trying to prove himself in the pros. Mauricio Dubon has flourished during his time in the minors with both the Brewers and San Francisco Giants but has yet to take the next step.
Round 4, Pick 102: Gage Workman 3B Arizona State
Despite it being about time to select their first pitcher of the draft, Detroit opted to go with the third baseman from Arizona State. Gage Workman was the 73rd-best prospect according to MLB.com but the Tigers continued to get great value selecting him at 102. This is a raw offensive talent with strong extra-base upside but lots of growing to do at the plate.
Scouts graded the 6’4″ and 195 pound 20-year-old strongest in the power department (55) with a less consistent hitting score (45) due to strikeouts. Despite the impressive power score Workman only hit 14 homers in three seasons at ASU. He did however hit seven triples – the fifth-most in the NCAA as a freshman thanks to his surprising speed (50). OPS and strikeout rate wise some quality comparisons are Los Angeles Dodgers‘ infielders Max Muncy and Chris Taylor.
Round 5, Pick 132: Colt Keith IF/RHP Biloxi Mississippi
The Tigers decided why not make it an all-hitting draft by rounding out Day Two with their first high school bat of the bunch. Well, sort of a bat. Colt Keith out of Biloxi High School was the 2018-2019 Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year as both an infielder and pitcher at times. The 87th-best prospect according to MLB.com fell into the last round at pick 132.
Keith is known for his impressive frame at 6’2″ and 220 pounds which have gifted him with unique arm strength in the field (60). This is what has turned him into a two-way player who can not only hit with great bat control (50) but throw an above-average fastball (55) and curveball (55) on the mound. It is hard to tell long term where he will end up but his fielding ability (50) and offensive upside could keep him playing every day. The smooth stroke from the left side resembles another well-rounded infielder who has played multiple positions. Jason Kipnis has carved a career out of being a versatile utility bat who can hit for average and field the ball soundly.
Final Grade: A-
The Detroit Tigers needed to hit the nail on the head in the shortened 2020 MLB Draft, and by the way-too-early looks of it, they are well on their way. The first three picks of their draft were nothing short of outstanding. Torkelson, Dingler, and Cabrera are three bats with massive upside who could be playing at Comerica for the next decade-plus. Despite three of their top five prospects currently being pitchers, it would have been nice to see them take a flyer on one later in the draft. Instead, they will bank on Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and maybe even Colt Keith down the road.
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