Tigers feel good about complicated COVID draft
Based on how COVID messed up the 2020 screening season, the Tigers could be in line, ironically, for something of a giveaway from Tuesday’s final 10 rounds of Major League Baseball’s 20-round draft. .
Players were more difficult to inspect in the spring, summer and fall. There was less data on hand. Fewer exposures allowed for the possibility that pitchers and hitters, especially in smaller schools, could be missed – and that surprises on the positive side could loom in these final rounds of the 2021 draft, simply because the talent could have slipped through the cracks of COVID.
Whether their luck is good or not so good, the Tigers won’t be shocked if help arrives in the final rounds.
“I hope I have some pleasant surprises,” said Scott Pleis, who leads the Tigers’ amateur scout. “I know these guys have nice abilities.”
And some colorful extremes, starting with the size.
Pleis drafted in the 14th round on Tuesday the biggest player he has ever selected in a draft – 6-foot-8, 300-pound right-hander RJ Petit of Charleston Southern.
He followed in the 17th round with perhaps the smallest player he took in his years as a scout: Wichita State right-hander Aaron Haase, 5-8, 193 pounds.
The Tigers also held onto conventions on Tuesday, drafting four more pitchers, two receivers, a third baseman, a first baseman and a pair of outfielders after making big pitches in the first two days of the draft. .
âIt could be a standard answer, but we feel very good about what we’ve done,â Pleis said. âIt was a very difficult year for screening. The draw was postponed (from its traditional date of June to July), and with COVID, we were unable to make it to some of the parks. There were just a lot of obstacles. But as a group I think we’ve all done pretty well.
Baseball America, who follows the draft and amateur baseball nonstop, agreed – on Detroit’s top picks, anyway – when he ranked Detroit as one of the top four MLB first 10 round winners, mostly in because of the quality weapons that Pleis and his team have amassed.
Tuesday’s transport was, as you might expect, mixed, with an early focus on receivers.
Josh Crouch, a right-handed hitter from central Florida, was caught in the 11th round, just ahead of Mike Rothenberg, a senior at Duke.
âThe captivating part – you still need to catch and we’ve had an eye on these guys for quite some time,â Pleis said. âWe wanted to have two. We thought that if we didn’t do them up front, we might miss them. “
Crouch, 22, is 6 feet 1 inch and 200 pounds. He hit .311 in 59 games, with 15 home runs and a 1,009 OPS.
Rothenberg, also 22, is 6-3, 215. He hit .251, with an .839 OPS and nine home runs.
âCrouch, we had him here (Lakeland, Fla.) For a practice session and he pitched well and swung the bat well,â Pleis said.
âRothenberg is a hitter with good height and good arm strength. He was a bit high and low (offensively), but we’ve seen in the past how he swings. Both are interesting. If they increase a bit, they will become good players.
Detroit’s only regional choice came in Round 13: University of Toledo third baseman Chris Meyers. Meyers (6-3, 210) is a left-handed and senior hitter.
âHe’s definitely a corner guy, and we really love the power,â Pleis said of a man who hit .382 in 53 games and made 15 home runs for the Rockets in 2021. âHe’s got some strength. power in all fields, which is really attracted us.
Then came the 14th round – and Pleis’ decision to draft a pitcher built more like an NFL left tackle. And, yes, the last name is pronounced “Pet-it” and not “peh-teet”, which would not have worked very well for a 6-8,300 year old male.
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Petit was a starter in Charleston Southern and it wasn’t much fun to fight. He had a 2.43 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in 84 innings. The secondary numbers: 69 hits, 75 strikeouts, 31 walks.
Petit has a superior ’90s fastball and a usual selection of secondary fields, all of which need some fine-tuning.
The Tigers will be happy to help you.
âWe have some history on him,â Pleis said. âOne of our local guys (scouts) knows him from Charleston so we had an interesting little trail on him. We love what we saw.
âWe’re definitely going to start it,â Pleis said when asked if Petit would start or relieve it. “If this becomes a two-part thing (limited repertoire), maybe a relief.”
Petit appeared in an interview with Zoom hosted by the Tigers on Tuesday and was thrilled to be a part of Detroit’s plans.
“I know they do a really good job with the pitchers,” he said, revealing that he was at Lakeland last week for Tigers supervised practice.
Petit said he found the first two days of the draft “scary” as he waited to hear his name. The 14th round paid off for a 21-year-old who, despite his size, has never played any sports other than religious basketball.
âI was the Scottie Pippen of religious basketball,â said Petit, from Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The Tigers added three more pitchers in the final six rounds, as well as a first baseman and an outfielder. Among their final selections:
âº15th round: Blake Holub, 22, right-handed pitcher, St. Edwards University (TX), 6-6, 230. Holub was a two-way player at St. Edwards, primarily working as a designated hitter when not pitching. He had a batting average of .349, with five homers and an OPS of 1.116 in 32 games.
But the Tigers will stay with him as a pitcher. In 11 games, including 10 starts, allowed 50 hits in 59.2 innings, with 77 strikeouts and 31 walks.
âº16th round: Jack Anderson, 21, right-handed pitcher, Florida State, 6-3, 197. An almost exclusively reliever, Anderson had a 2.47 ERA in 23 games. His 40 innings length: 32 hits, 45 strikeouts, seven walks, an opposing batting average of 0.28.
âº 17th round: Haase, the Wichita State reliever with solid numbers: 18 games, all from the reliever box, with a 1.78 ERA, 0.169 opposing batting average and 25.1 innings streak over the course of of which he was hit for 15 hits, while striking out 24 batters and walking two.
âº18th lap: Ben Malgeri, 21, outfield, Northeast, 6-2, 215. A right-handed hitter, Malgeri has hit 0.280 in 45 games, averaging .358, seven homers and an OPS of 0.816.
âº19th round: Justice Bigbie, 22, first baseman, Western Carolina, 6-3, 200. A right-handed stick, Bigbie has a .395 batting average in 29 games, with nine homers, 37 strikeouts and 36 walks.
âº20th round: JD McLaughlin, 20, outfield, Central Arizona Junior College, 6-3, 195. McLaughlin, another right-handed swinger, has hit .338 in 60 games, with 13 homers, 10 triples and 13 doubles. He also stole 13 bases.
The Tigers’ scouts will now take care of handing over contracts to their drafted players, with money issues likely to be settled and signings to come.
They’ll also chase undrafted free agents, who are expected to be plentiful in a year when baseball’s 40-round draft has been reduced to 20.
It’s a consequence of COVID, of course. The Tigers are confident that a pandemic hasn’t stopped them this week from adding some desperately needed layers of farm depth – and, possibly, manpower destined for Comerica Park.
Lynn Henning is a freelance writer and former sports reporter for Detroit News.
2021 Tigers Draft Pick
âºFirst round, n Â° 3 overall: RHP Jackson Jobe, Heritage Hall (Oklahoma) HS
âºCompetitive Balance A, No. 32 overall: RHP Ty Madden, Texas
âºSecond round, 39th overall: SS Izaac Pacheco, Friendswood (Texas) SS
âºThird round, n Â° 74 overall: RHP Dylan Smith, Alabama
âºFourth round, n Â° 104 overall: RHP Tyler Mattison, Bryant
âºFifth round, n Â° 135 overall: RHP Tanner Kohlhepp, Notre-Dame
âºSixth round, n Â° 165 overall: OF Austin Murr, State of North Carolina
âºSeventh round, n Â° 195 overall: LHP Brant Hurter, Georgia Tech
âºEighth lap, n Â° 225 overall: RHP Jordan Marks, South Carolina-Upstate
âºNinth round, n Â° 255 overall: RHP Garrett Burhenn, State of Ohio
âº10th round, n Â° 285 overall: FROM Austin Schultz, Kentucky
âº11th round, n Â° 315 overall: C Jason Crouch, Central Florida
âº12th round, n Â° 345 overall: C Mike Rothenberg, Duke
âº13th lap, n Â° 375 overall: 3B Chris Meyers, Toledo
âº14th round, n Â° 405 overall: RHP RJ Petit, South Charleston
âº15th round, n Â° 435 overall: RHP Blake Holub, St. Edwards University
âº16th round, n Â° 465 overall: RHP Jack Anderson, State of Florida
âº17th round, n Â° 495 overall: RHP Aaron Haase, State of Wichita
âº18th round, n Â° 525 overall: DE Ben Malgeri, North East
âº19th lap, n Â° 555 overall: 1B Justice Bigbie, West Carolina
âº20th round, n Â° 585 overall: FC JD McLaughlin, Arizona Central College