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After Mize at 1, Tigers focus on position players

Outfielder Meadows, 2B Clemens among Detroit's top Draft picks
MLB.com

DETROIT -- From the No. 1 overall pick to a 6-foot-10 Division III pitcher, the Tigers demanded baseball's attention during the 2018 MLB Draft. The rebuilding organization stuck mostly to the college ranks and, despite a couple of its most intriguing picks, chose position players over pitchers.

Draft Tracker: See every Tigers Draft pick

DETROIT -- From the No. 1 overall pick to a 6-foot-10 Division III pitcher, the Tigers demanded baseball's attention during the 2018 MLB Draft. The rebuilding organization stuck mostly to the college ranks and, despite a couple of its most intriguing picks, chose position players over pitchers.

Draft Tracker: See every Tigers Draft pick

The Tigers had options to weigh with their No. 1 pick, something they hadn't done since 1997. There was a right-handed stud on the mound. A power-hitting catcher. A speedy shortstop with serious on-base potential. Of course, the Tigers went with the pitcher, Casey Mize, a junior from Auburn.

Video: Draft 2018: Tigers draft RHP Casey Mize No. 1

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Mize climbed up to the first overall pick relatively quickly, after not being drafted out of high school. Steven Strasburg, the top pick in 2009, did the same thing.

Scott Pleis, the Tigers' director of amateur scouting, said after Day 2 that the organization was simply going after the best available players for the most part. The Tigers have four starting-pitching prospects ranked in the top 70 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list. While they may have preferred that a hitter emerge as the clear top prospect in this year's Draft, the Tigers weren't swayed from Mize.

The Tigers went on to grab a few more pitchers early, including 6-foot-10 right-hander Hugh Smith from Division III Whitworth in Round 6. Smith has a fastball he said he can dial up to 98 mph, and Pleis said he wouldn't be surprised if Smith has touched 100 mph. But the Tigers only picked five pitchers in the first 17 rounds. By comparison, the Tigers took nine pitchers in the first 17 rounds last year.

The emphasis was instead put on position players. Grayson (Ga.) High School outfielder Parker Meadows was the Tigers' pick in Round 2. Meadows is the younger brother of Austin Meadows, who was picked ninth overall by the Pirates in 2013 and made his Major League debut in Pittsburgh this season. The Tigers went with another notable name in Round 3 when they selected second baseman Kody Clemens from Texas. Clemens is one of three sons of seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens to be drafted.

Video: Draft 2018: Tigers draft 2B Kody Clemens No. 79

The Tigers snagged a couple of catchers this year. Christopher Proctor, from Duke, was taken in Round 13. Proctor isn't flashy either behind the plate or in the batter's box, but he's noted for having tools that can be developed in both spots. Another Day 3 pick with some intrigue is outfielder Avery Tuck of New Mexico Junior College. Tuck can play either corner in the outfield and could also be a fun bat to watch develop. He hit .385 this season with 52 RBIs in 179 plate appearances.

Aside from Meadows, the Tigers rarely dabbled in the high school ranks. Center fielder Kingston Liniak from Mission Hills (Calif.) High School was drafted in Round 4. He's committed to the University of San Diego. Third baseman Kelvin Smith, out of Redan (Ga.) High School, was taken in Round 20. Right-handed pitcher Cole Henry of Florence (Ala.) High School was ranked as the No. 137 prospect in this class but went to the Tigers in Round 38 because of his commitment to Louisiana State. He will be draft-eligible again in 2020.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers