Written By: Chris Clegg
Follow him on Twitter: @RotoClegg
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The MLB Draft is in the books, and the Detroit Tigers came out with arguably the best draft class of any team. Spencer Torkelson was pegged to the Tigers long before the draft, but some smoke leading up to the draft left analyst questioning which way they would go. Ultimately, the Tigers made the right choice by taking the best player in the draft in Torkelson.
The Tigers did not get fancy throughout the draft. They took the best player available each round, and it paid huge dividends for them. A good farm system only improved as Detroit looks to have a solid Major League club as soon as 2021. With that being said, let’s check out the players that were selected by the Tigers.
1.1: Spencer Torkelson – 3B/1B – Arizona State
Age: 20 Bats: R – Throws: R – 6’1 – 220 lbs – ETA: 2021
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Spencer Torkelson is the best player in the 2020 draft class, and there is not much debate. He dominated college pitching finishing his career with a .337/.463/.729 slash line. For those of you that are not familiar, that is his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. In 129 career college games, he finished with 54 home runs and 130 RBIs. All of those numbers are impressive, but what is even better is that Torkelson was intentionally walk more times than he struck out in 2020. You can see why he was the consensus first overall pick.
At this point, it is well-documented how good Torkelson is. He is one of the best hitters to come through the draft in quite a few years. He hits for plus or better average, walks at a high rate, and has exceptional feel at the plate. He barrels the ball and controls the bat well through the zone. Prospects do not always pan out, but Torkelson feels like a safe bet to hit for a high average with 30 or more home runs in his peak Major League seasons.
The biggest surprise was Torkelson being announced as a third basemen, a position that he did not spent much time at in college. Torkelson is athletic enough to play third, and it is worth the Tigers giving him a shot to develop there. If Torkelson has to move back to first base, he is still a good defender there. It is important to note the Tigers drafted Torkelson for his bat though, and not his glove. He will shine at the plate!
2.38: Dillion Dingler – C – Ohio State
Age: 21 – Bats: R – Throws: R – 6’3″ – 210 lbs – ETA: 2023
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Dillion Dingler is a fantastic, all-around catcher who many thought would be selected on the first day of the draft. After falling, the Tigers took the top player on their board like I previously mentioned. They were ecstatic to be able to get Dingler to begin the second round.
Dingler excels behind the plate, providing an excellent glove and arm. He consistently shows the ability to throw out hitters. Some considering his arm to be plus-plus, which is very uncommon. While being great behind the plate, Dingler also provides good value with his bat.
Dingler consistently improved each season at Ohio State with his bat. He worked to rebuild his swing to add more power. His batting average of his three seasons were: .244, .291, and .340. Dingler is the type of player who works hard to improve areas of his game that he knows needs work. While only hitting seven home runs over his 405 plate appearances in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, Dingler hit five home runs in just 58 plate appearances in 2020. Some will attribute the improvements in 2020 to a small sample size, but Dingler made tangible changes that made this had a direct effect on his performance. If the season had played out to its full extent, Dingler would likely have been a first-round pick. The Tigers gladly took Dingler at 38, knowing he steps into the farm as their top catching prospect.
2s.62: Daniel Cabrera – OF – LSU
Age: 21 – Bats: L – Throws: L – 6’1″ – 196 lbs – ETA: 2022
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In a draft where the Tigers drafted a ton of great value, Cabrera could be their best value pick. Cabrera has been a legit prospect since high school, but LSU managed to get him on campus instead of turning pro. He is another first-round talent that fell into the Tigers lap. Cabrera has an extremely polished swing that led to fantastic production at the plate at LSU. During his three seasons there, he hit .305 with 22 home runs in 586 plate appearances. He also showed good plate discipline, giving him a nice OBP.
Cabrera does need to continue to refine his defensive skills, but it is likely he ends up playing a less demanding outfield spot in left field. There are concerns over how well is power will play at the next level, but Cabrera himself is unconcerned and working to add muscle mass every day. While there are question marks about his ceiling, there is a lot to like in Cabrera’s profile, and there are not many outfielders in the Tiger’s farm system to block him from getting to the Major League. This leaves the door open for Cabrera to rise through the system relatively fast.
3.73: Trei Cruz – SS – Rice
Age: 21 – Bats: R – Throws: R – 6’2″ – 200 lbs – ETA: 2023
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The Tigers continued their trend of drafting college hitters by selecting Trei Cruz out of Rice University. Cruz is another great bat who performed well at the college level producing a career slash line of .296/.405/.482. He also added 16 home runs and nine stolen bases to his solid triple-slash. Cruz started the shortened 2020 season scorching hot and showing great plate discipline before the pandemic shut down college baseball.
While Cruz was a shortstop in college, I see him as a better fit at second base. He has the quickness to stick at shortstop, but his arm profiles more as a second baseman, which is where he played during his freshman season at Rice. Since he will likely move off of the premium position of shortstop, many scouts may have undervalued him.
Cruz has all the tools to succeed both in the field and as a hitter. He brings a patient, smooth approach to the plate, and puts the bat on the ball well. The power is not fully there, but Cruz could grow into more with time. Overall, Cruz is a great value and should be a good player across the board.
4.102: Gage Workman – 3B Arizona State
Age: 20 – Bats: S – Throws: R – 6’4″ – 195 lbs – ETA: 2023
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The Tigers once again followed their college bat trend by selecting Spencer Torkelson’s teammate Gage Workman with the 102nd pick. Workman had a solid offensive career at Arizona State, producing a .306/.381/.500 slash line. That line is quite impressive on the surface, but many scouts did not love his overall performance. Workman strikeouts out at a high rate and seems to lack plate discipline. Overall, the skill set is solid at the plate, and with some adjustments, Workman could grow into an excellent hitter.
In the field, Workman is solid at third base with the ability to grow into an above-average fielding tool. Some think he even has the ability to move to shortstop because of his ability. It is likely he would have played shortstop at Arizona State if the Sun Devils did not have another high draft pick in Alika Williams playing there. Overall, there is a lot to like about this pick and the upside that Workman offers.
5.132: Colt Keith – 3B/RHP – Biloxi HS
Age: 18 – Bats: L – Throws: L – 6’2″ – 220lbs – ETA: 2025
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The Tigers finished off their impressive 2020 draft by selecting a talented, two-way stud in Colt Keith. He was the only high school player that the Tigers selected, and it was somewhat questionable given the fact that Keith fell so far and had a firm commitment to Arizona State. The Tigers worked the finances out and were able to sign Keith for well above the allotted slot value at pick 132.
While being a two-way player in high school, it seems the Tigers would like him to end up in the field long term. Keith is a very toolsy player that gives him a nice ceiling long term. Right now, he still raw but has the ability for a ton of growth. At the plate, Keith produces big bat speed and gets the bat through the zone well. He makes good contact and offers a good hit tool. There is a lot of room for growth in Keith’s game power.
In the field, Keith is very athletic at third base. He already has a plus arm, as you can tell from his ability on the mound. The glove is average right now, but I expect him to develop more given the kind of athlete that Keith is. This is a pick that many love and the Tigers love even more now that they have signed Keith.
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