Tigers look to keep reloading farm with top pick
Mize, Bart headline Detroit's options for first overall selection
DETROIT -- The Tigers' rapid descent from perennial contenders to sellers last summer came with the reward of the top overall pick in the 2018 Draft. It's a jewel for an organization that has been working to refill its farm system with talent over the past year.
The 2018 Draft will take place today through Wednesday, beginning with today's Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. ET. MLB Network will broadcast the first 43 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 78 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, with a preview show beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on Day 3, beginning at noon ET.
Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, projected top picks from MLB Pipeline analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Tigers, owners of the first overall pick for the first time since 1997:
In about 50 words
The Tigers have the top overall pick in a year when the Draft crop doesn't have a clear-cut superstar. That doesn't diminish the importance of the pick in their rebuilding plans, though. Detroit needs a player who can be a key part of its next contending club.
General manager Al Avila and assistant GM David Chadd have experience with a top pick in a muddled field of talent. They were both with the Marlins when Florida used the No. 1 selection in 2000 on a high-school first baseman named Adrian Gonzalez. He never played a game for the Marlins, but he's still playing today at age 36. Considering the Tigers' last No. 1 overall pick was reliever Matt Anderson, they'd gladly take a talent like Gonzalez this year.
The Tigers have heavily scouted Auburn right-handed starter Casey Mize all season and had a detailed sit-down discussion with him. But Mize's recent struggles have added suspense to what looked like an inevitable selection. There's love in some corners of the organization for Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, who has emerged as a fearsome power hitter this spring and has drawn comparisons to Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters, but some question whether he profiles as enough of an impact player to supplant Mize. The Tigers have depth in both areas, but they have always picked the best-rated available player.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $125,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Tigers have a bonus pool of $12,414,800 for the first 10 rounds, the third highest among all clubs. The Royals and Rays have larger pools thanks to compensation picks. Detroit's top pick is valued at $8,096,300, but teams with the first overall selection have often signed their players for below top slot value and used the extra money for later picks.
The Tigers have an up-and-coming farm system built around pitching depth, but they desperately need elite hitters. If the Tigers draft Mize, expect them to look for offense in subsequent rounds. They did the same thing last year, following up Florida pitcher and College World Series star Alex Faedo by using their second-round pick on junior-college slugger Reynaldo Rivera.
Former Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski loved to say a team can never have enough pitching in its system, and that trend has continued under Avila. The Tigers used their top pick on a pitcher in each of the last three Drafts and five of their last six. They've also drafted a high-school player in three of the last four years. One key difference this year, though, is that Detroit is utilizing analytics extensively for the first time.
Recent Draft history
Right-hander Beau Burrows, the Tigers' top pick in 2015, is on a path to become the first of the club's top-ranked pitching prospects to reach the big leagues, possibly sometime next year. The 21-year-old right-hander has been at Double-A Erie since last summer and is shutting down Eastern League offenses efficiently enough that he's pushing for a promotion to Triple-A Toledo soon. He ranks 72nd on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list, and fourth on the Tigers' prospect rankings.
Mike Gerber had just completed his senior season at Creighton when the Tigers used their 15th-round pick on him in 2014. He made his Major League debut with Detroit earlier this season and has a chance to carve a role in the Tigers' outfield by next year. Like Tyler Collins and Andy Dirks before him, Gerber is a multi-faceted player who doesn't have one elite tool but does everything well.
In the show
Third baseman Nicholas Castellanos was a first-round pick in 2010, and James McCann was a second-round selection the following year. Buck Farmer was a fifth-round pick in 2013.
Recent top picks
2017: Alex Faedo, RHP (Class A Advanced Lakeland)
2016: Matt Manning, RHP (Class A West Michigan)
2015: Beau Burrows, RHP (Double-A Erie)
2014: Derek Hill, OF (Class A Advanced Lakeland)
2013: Jonathon Crawford, RHP (Traded to Reds)