Shortly after 7 p.m. ET on Monday, the Tigers will announce their selection with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft. They still have a little bit of time to figure it out, and they've narrowed their group of candidates to five.
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Auburn right-hander Casey Mize remains the front-runner. Ranked No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's Top 200 Draft Prospects list, he has the best pitch in the Draft with a diving mid-80s splitter and two other plus offerings in his fastball and slider (which he can turn into a cutter). Mize leads NCAA Division I in K/BB ratio for the second straight spring. He hadn't been as sharp recently, but on Saturday, he held Army to one run on four hits with 11 strikeouts over seven innings in the second round of an NCAA regional playoff.
Besides Mize, Detroit also is considering Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm, Florida right-hander Brady Singer and left-hander Matt Liberatore out of Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.) High School.
Either Bart or Bohm immediately would become the best position prospect in the Tigers' pitching-heavy system. The Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Bart is the best catcher in a Draft thin at that position. He's one of the top power hitters available and has made himself into a solid defender behind the plate.
Bohm has a chance to be the best all-around college hitter from this Draft, making consistent hard contact and managing the strike zone well while generating plenty of power. There's some doubt as to whether he has the quickness and arm strength to remain at third base, with many scouts projecting him as a future first baseman.
Baseball America's College Player of the Year and the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year over Mize, Singer played a leading role (as did 2017 Tigers first-rounder Alex Faedo) when Florida won the 2017 College World Series. He pairs a lively low-90s fastball with excellent feel for his plus slider, and he also gets high marks for his deception and competitiveness. He had missed two straight starts with a tight left hamstring, but he pitched seven innings of two-run ball with six K's during a 3-2 win over Jacksonville in the second round of the Gators' regional playoff on Saturday.
Liberatore is the most polished high school arm in the Draft and opened eyes when he hit 97 mph with his fastball in his first outing this spring. Gatorade's Arizona Player of the Year, he usually pitches in the low 90s and has the potential for three plus pitches in his fastball, curveball and changeup.
2018 Draft order | 2018 Draft: June 4-6 | All-time Draft picks
In the previous 53 Drafts, the Tigers owned the No. 1 overall pick only once. They took Rice right-hander Matt Anderson in 1997, signing him for $2,505,000. He reached Detroit a year after signing but struggled after a promising rookie season, logging a 5.19 ERA with 26 saves in 257 big league appearances.
The Tigers are hoping to emulate the success that general manager Al Avila and assistant GM David Chadd had when picking first overall with the Marlins. Avila was the scouting director and Chadd was one of their crosscheckers when they signed San Diego area high school first baseman Adrian Gonzalez for $3 million as the first selection in 2000. Gonzalez, who was considered a signability pick by many clubs and a mid-first-round talent by most, has made five All-Star Games while winning three Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Sluggers.