A scout’s job is important and thankless. A scout has to spend multiple weeks on the road away from their families. In today’s day and age, they also have to battle against the computers disagreeing with them in their office.
There’s another subgroup of observers who rarely have their opinions heard on prospects: the players themselves.
“That kid is a flat-out superstar. What a talent,” a player told me back in 2015 after a trip to Indiana to face the South Bend Cubs. “Nobody knows who he is, but everyone’s about to.”
The player he was referring to a little-known shortstop named Gleyber Torres, who went on to become one of the best prospects in all of baseball and has enjoyed a successful big-league debut throughout his first two weeks with the New York Yankees.
Players certainly aren’t scouts, but they can also see and learn other things that no one else can. That’s why we surveyed players past and present from throughout the game to find out more about the potential Tigers draftees with the first overall pick.
We asked fellow ballplayers about Casey Mize, the Auburn right-hander currently projected to be the Tigers selection. We also inquired about Oregon State infielder Nick Madrigal, Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, Wichita State infielder Alec Bohm and Florida pitcher Brady Singer and infielder Jonathan India. Each of the following players is considered to be contenders to be drafted in the top-10 of the 2018 MLB Draft.
Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn
“[Mize] is a big body with real stuff. He’s got two different breaking balls to compliment his best out-pitch, which in my opinion is a splitter direct from Satan himself. He plays the fastball off the splitter and vice-versa, but he needs to be ahead in the count to use it.”
“Kid can locate all his pitches. His fastball is heavier than most guys throwing between 90-94. I think he’s a true 1/1 in the mold of Masahiro Tanaka.”
“He’s got a powerful, heavy fastball to go with his wipeout splitter. The problem happens when he leaves that split up in the zone – then, it turned into a fastball you’d see in batting practice. When he leaves it up, you can crush it.”
“He’s one of the better pitchers I’ve seen. Everything plays off that splitter, so he needs to have that working at all times.”
“He’s playing the best of anyone in college, but there’s a big difference between being the guy who’s ‘playing the best’ and the ‘best player.’ Hardly anyone has given him enough of a challenge this season. I wonder how he will adjust once he gets hit.”
“[Mize] has the best stuff of the entire class, as well as the highest potential. There are three pitches there, and he can throw in a cutter to keep hitters off-balance. I’m terrified of his forearm issues. It looks to me that he’s tuckering out once again, which he’s had a reputation for doing. It makes me wonder if he can be a starter at the next level.”
“He’s the real deal. I went to watch him throw with my dad right before spring training, and he was nasty. I remember seeing him get up to 97mph with four serviceable pitches. I would think he’s a clear choice.”
“If you look at what [Shohei], Ohtani is doing right now, and he’s a great example of what Mize can be. Ohtani’s only throwing that splitter when he’s ahead in the count and for a good reason. The trick is to get ahead in the count to set it up. Ohtani throws 100, so he can rest on that premium velocity to bail him out. Mize can run it up a bit, but not as high. He’ll have to be able to throw all of his other pitches for strikes to be successful. Command is key for him.”
Nick Madrigal, IF, Oregon State
“Madrigal is the best player I played against in college. He’s an incredible all-around player, and his awareness is incredible. He’s so intelligent on the field that it’s a nightmare to have to play against him.”
“He’s really knowledgeable, and especially considering how good of a hitter he is, he should have no problem stealing 30-40 bases in the big leagues once he gets there. He’s a perfect guy to hit at the top of your order.”
“I’ve seen this kid play a ton, and [Madrigal] is baseball’s equivalent to ‘Lightning.’ He’s only 5-8 and 160 pounds, but he’s unique, and I expect him to be the best player in this draft down the line.”
“He’s got a strong body of work despite a wrist injury he suffered earlier this season. If a team thinks he can play shortstop, they should draft him early. I think he’ll end up playing second base and will hit for a high average. He’s got an elite feel for hitting the baseball on the barrel and will post a high OBP. A good baserunner who has enough speed to be a base-stealing threat.”
Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
“He’s a big-league hitter, with power being his biggest selling point. He strikes out a bit, but he showed good plate discipline, and we saw him hit against a pull-side shift. A good catcher who works well with his pitching staff.”
“He’s your typical righty with power. He’ll crush a pitcher if he makes a mistake, but he tries to pull everything to the left side of the field. If you pitch him outside, you’ll get a lot of weak ground balls.”
“I was surprised when I saw how well he was hitting this season. He’s always had power, but I wasn’t sold on his chances to hit for a high average. Bart also can control a running game and is not afraid to pick off a baserunner from behind the plate. You always have to be on your toes with him back there.”
Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
“He’s a bulldog on the mound with a quick delivery. His fastball sits between 92-95 with real life and sink. [Singer] can locate both sides of the plate and rarely misses up in the zone. His breaking ball (when it’s on) is a plus pitch. He also showed signs of a real changeup. He uses both to put hitters away. He can either strike you out or get quick outs with bad contact. You get the sense that defenders love playing behind him.”
“Singer is my favorite in this class. I see a better version of Rick Porcello. Quick, deceptive delivery, coming from a lower arm slot. Big time swing-and-miss stuff, especially if he improves the changeup. Controls the running game well.”
Jonathan India, IF, Florida
“[India] was considered a five-tool guy out of High School, and finally put his tools together this year. He’s very talented as an infielder, but I’m not sure he has enough pop to stick at third base. I think he could be a good shortstop.”
“From what I saw, I think he’s the best college bat in the draft. There’s legit power to all fields with a smooth and easy load keeps him balanced at all times. He’s a plus-defender who can probably play shortstop well.
“He’s an average runner and athlete, but so solid all-around. [India] is a smaller-bodied guy, and that gets used against him. He has electric hands. I hear he has some baggage off-the-field, but baseball-wise we would be grasping for cons. He will be a top-10 pick.
“He’s pretty-laid laid back. You would think he doesn’t care if you knew him on the surface, but that could be something he does to his benefit. He’s got a ton of tools, but I see his potential as a modern-day, super-utility guy. You could tell he’s most comfortable at third, but he didn’t have as much power as you see from typical guys at that position.
“For me, he’s got the ability to play just about anywhere. I love his bat as well. Significant player for every MLB team to have considering his versatility.”
Alec Bohm, IF, Wichita State University
“He’s a guy that in my opinion will strictly play first base or DH. [Bohm] has an athletic, big-body that should be able to hit with enough power and regularity to stick there. I don’t think he can play third base, but he has big-time power and walks more than he strikes out.”
“You can’t argue against those numbers he’s been putting up at the plate, but I’m not sure he’s a third baseman. That’s such a tough position to play, and it doesn’t get any easier the higher you climb up the ladder.”
Follow Dan Hasty on Twitter @ThatDanHasty