Detroit Tigers: Grading the 2020 MLB Draft

Paul Robinson shares his thoughts about Comerica Park’s next generation… 


I still do not think Al Avila is the right man to continue with the rebuild of the franchise. His past transgressions have seen to that for me personally. I will, however, give credit where credit is due. The 2020 MLB draft has shown he is finally learning from his past mistakes.

He has finally seen that the ‘pitching or bust’ strategy that has been employed in previous drafts is no longer an option and has seen sense by taking five college “impact” bats and one interesting two-way high schooler. They could⁠—and in the case of Spencer Torkelson should⁠—be with the major league club sooner rather than later.


Spencer Torkelson was an absolute no-brainer of a pick at 1.1. Right up until MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced his name on day one of the draft, I was still concerned about reports of Avila taking long looks at Emerson Hancock from Georgia who went sixth overall to the Seattle Mariners. At first I thought Manfred announcing his position at third base was a Freudian slip, but a later interview with Avila confirmed the Tigers’ idea is that is where he will slot in in the immediate future.

This could be one of those “if he has the bat we’ll find him a place to play” kind of situations with CJ Cron earmarked for first base duties.

If we get an abbreviated 2020 Major League season could we see Torkelson play third straight away? Who knows, but he has the type of bat that could make an instant impact in a woefully lacklustre Major League team.


Second round pick, catcher Dillion Dingler (Say that five times after five shots of tequila), is easily my favourite pick of the draft here. This is an athletic catcher with a plus arm and would probably gone in the first round had this draft been like any other draft. As it stands the Tigers have first round value for a second round pick. Dingler could (and probably will) easily overtake Jake Rogers and claim a lion’s share of catcher’s duties for the big club in the near future.


LSU outfielder Daniel Cabrera is reported to be a steal all over the internet and has been touted as being the best college bat at the #62 spot available by a long way. He is considered to have a high floor and decent ceiling with a small to moderate leg kick on a fluid swing that provides some pop in the bat. More than likely he heads to left field.

However, Cabrera  also has the running ability to take a shot at centre. Only time will tell, but this is an intriguing selection for the second round compensation draft pick by the Avila and the Tigers.


Third round pick shortstop Trei Cruz is a third generation player out of Rice. He is a switch-hitting versatile player who can play third, second or shortstop. Trei has been drafted twice before the Tigers came knocking. The first time was by the Houston Astros in the 35th round of the 2017 draft and the second by the Washington Nationals in 2019 in the 37th round. He turned down both offers to play baseball at college.


Switch-hitting third baseman Gage Workman also from Arizona State worries me some. His power and bat speed come from the left side and with some work could, and should, become a usable hitter from the right side of the plate, but his strikeout to walks ratio make me nervous.

In two Cape Cod seasons he holds a 79/19 strike out to walks ratio, but what concerns me more is the potential of Torkelson blocking him at third base. If CJ Cron re-signs and Tork is at third the only other option for Workman is shortstop where he spent time playing in the Arizona fall league.

Workman was drafted well below his 32nd rank by MLB Pipeline which means a tremendous value if he does in fact pan out.


Colt Keith is the riskier pick of the draft for me, whilst I agree the sky is the limit for the power lefty-hitting, righty-throwing two-way high schooler. Keith sports a low-90s fastball but I believe the Tigers drafted him for the power-hitting bat that can spray hits to all sides of the field.


Overall I’d give the Tigers draft class of 2020 a B+ rating. They needed bats and that’s exactly what they went after and Avila may have just saved his job for another year.

However, as always, only time will tell how this year’s draftees will pan out—but for now, at least, there may be some light at the end of this rebuilding tunnel.

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