DETROIT -- After going a familiar route by drafting a pitcher with a top pick, the Tigers got the bat they wanted in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft Monday. At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, Reynaldo Rivera was a big bat to get, a left-handed-hitting first baseman/outfielder from
DETROIT -- After going a familiar route by drafting a pitcher with a top pick, the Tigers got the bat they wanted in the second round of the 2017 MLB Draft Monday. At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, Reynaldo Rivera was a big bat to get, a left-handed-hitting first baseman/outfielder from Chipola Junior College in Florida.
After catching a highly rated pitcher in the first round with University of Florida right-hander Alex Faedo, the Tigers went off most expected boards to grab Rivera with the 57th overall selection. MLB Pipeline ranked him 150th on its Draft prospect list, making him an expected second-day selection. But the Tigers, facing a drought of impact hitters in their system, swung for the fences, so to speak.
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
The Tigers have a history with Rivera, scouting director Scott Pleis said. They had interest in him as a high school player in Puerto Rico, and the club then followed his college career. Once he blossomed with Chipola this spring, he rose up their rankings.
"He's a good athlete," Pleis said Tuesday. "He's athletic enough to play the outfield. He's athletic enough to play first. He's a talented kid. And tremendous left-hand power, as good as I've seen in a while."
Pleis said the Tigers plan on having him work as an outfielder for now.
Rivera won Perfect Game/Rawlings Junior College Player of the Year honors after posting a .560 slugging percentage and 1.399 OPS at Chipola. He hit 20 homers and 20 doubles in just under 250 plate appearances along with 73 RBIs, leading the school to the Junior College World Series title.
"He had a fantastic tournament," Pleis said. "I think he had five home runs in the tournament. We have history with him. We've had our eye on him for a while. We had him in for a workout [in Lakeland]. We were impressed even more."
The ability is still raw, according to scouting reports, and Rivera won't necessarily be a quick riser up the Tigers' farm system. But with his 20th birthday coming up Wednesday, he's young enough for a college player that the organization can exercise some patience.
"Rivera has a tendency to push his hands away from his body at times, leaving him susceptible to balls in on him and leading to swings and misses," the MLB Pipeline scouting report reads. "But he's not an all-or-nothing power guy and will read pitches well, trying to go the other way with two strikes."
Rivera, a 24th-round pick of the Cubs last year, has committed to play college ball at Mississippi State. If he opts to turn pro, he'll join a Tigers system that could use power hitters. Another lefty slugger, Christin Stewart, ranks second in the Tigers system, but there's little else in terms of power in Detroit's top 30 rankings.
The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 12 p.m. ET.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.