Tigers add experience on Day 2 of Draft

July 18th, 2022

The Tigers have had the philosophy of drafting the best available player regardless of Major League need for at least the last 20 years. That won’t change any time soon. Still, if a fan watched Detroit’s offensive struggles this year and wondered where the bats are in the system, this is their kind of Draft.

What began as a trend with Texas Tech’s Jace Jung and Oklahoma’s Peyton Graham in the first couple rounds on Sunday continued into Monday. The Tigers liked the depth of college hitters, and they tapped into it.

“We got a lot of hitters, a lot of position guys, which is good,” director of amateur scouting Scott Pleis said. “Some better athletes than others, but I think we got some impact.”

Here’s a look at the Tigers’ Day 2 Draft picks:

Round 4: Troy Melton, RHP, San Diego State
The Tigers are no stranger to the SDSU pitching staff, having drafted Garrett Hill from the school in the 26th round in 2018. Melton was a high-rated prospect (ranked No. 135 on MLB Pipeline) but was a project with the Aztecs after spending most of his high school career as a catcher. He posted some impressive numbers in his junior campaign this spring, including 7.9 hits per nine innings and just two home runs allowed over 65 1/3 innings. His fastball averages 93 mph but tops out at 97 to go with a low-80s slider and curveball. He could benefit from work on pitch design, which makes him a potential project for Tigers pitching director Gabe Ribas.

Round 5: Luke Gold, 3B, Boston College
If you wanted the Tigers to focus on offense, this pick fits the profile. Like Jace Jung, Gold is a hitter first, having posted back-to-back outstanding seasons in the ACC. After batting .316 with a .940 OPS in 2021, Gold hit .309 with a .958 OPS this spring with similar power and more doubles (21) while improving on walks (24) and dropping his strikeouts (28). He ranked 87th on MLB Pipeline’s rankings going into the Draft.

“You know what, every time I see him, he hits,” Pleis said. “He’s just one of those guys. He squares the ball up, uses the field, hits the ball hard.”

Round 6: Danny Serretti, SS, North Carolina
Serretti was a Draft prospect entering last year but returned to school after a rough 2021 season. The switch-hitter rekindled his prospect stock with a bounce-back season this spring, batting .365 with 17 doubles, 10 home runs, 54 RBIs and a 1.004 OPS. He had nearly as many walks (32) as strikeouts (38). The Tigers believe he can stick at shortstop, though he could move to second.

Round 7: Seth Stephenson, OF, Tennessee
Stephenson is a switch-hitting speedster who swiped 25 bases in 30 attempts this season with the Vols. He hit .339 with a .408 on-base percentage, .916 OPS and plenty of doubles power. Though he was a middle infielder in junior college, he moved to the outfield at Tennessee.

Round 8: Jake Miller, LHP, Valparaiso
Not to be confused with high school right-handed pitching prospect Jacob Miller, the college lefty went 6-2 with a 5.58 ERA in 11 starts and a relief appearance for the Crusaders in 2022. His 11 strikeouts per nine innings were impressive for his low-90s fastball and secondary pitches, but he also gave up 10 homers and 71 hits over 61 1/3 innings. His summer ball work was much better, including 71 strikeouts over 57 innings last year in the Prospect League.

Round 9: Andrew Jenkins, 1B, Georgia Tech
Like Gold, Jenkins is a pure hitter who climbed prospect rankings (No. 174 according to MLB Pipeline) with a monster 2022 season, but Jenkins hits for more power. The Atlanta high school product hit .381 (96-for-252) with 22 doubles, 17 homers, 70 RBIs and a 1.119 OPS in 60 games for the Yellow Jackets. He can be prone to strikeouts on breaking pitches, but his all-field power was too good to pass up at this stage.

“We always saw him hit,” Pleis said. “He’s a better athlete than some might think. He can run. He can play the outfield. He can play first base. So there’s some versatility there. But he’s just a good hitter, and he does have power.”

Round 10: Trevin Michael, RHP, Oklahoma
The Tigers haven’t been afraid to draft college closers in recent years. Michael, a starter earlier in his amateur career before transferring, put up 10 saves in 32 appearances (two starts) for the Sooners while striking out 95 batters over 71 2/3 innings.

“Really good stuff,” Pleis said. “Four pitches, plus stuff across the board. He’s got a really good changeup, a good breaking ball and a live fastball. Probably a little bit older than the guys we usually take, but I think his stuff spoke for itself.”