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Jackson Jobe Is A Massive Risk For The Detroit Tigers

This is a tough piece to write. I always feel like I come across like such a curmudgeon when talking about draft picks. I don’t want to sound like the teenager who got a Buick instead of an Escalade for their 16th birthday. With that said, I am genuinely stunned and slightly disappointed the Tigers decided to get Jackson Jobe with the 3rd overall pick in this year‘s draft. I’m really happy for Jackson Jobe. I hope he turns out to be one of the best pitchers the Detroit Tigers have ever had. This piece is not meant to disparage him as a pitcher or as a person. I hope he’s great, but I am surprised. It felt like Marcelo Mayer was their guy. Maybe my finger just wasn’t properly on the pulse but it seemed like that the Tigers were leaning towards him over the last several months. I don’t know what changed. I wish I had the inside scoop. 

It’s easy for everyone to be mad online, but allow me to defend this pick for just a second. Jackson Jobe has an elite arm. Of any pitcher in this draft, he seems to have the highest upside. He’s a 6’2 right handed starting pitcher with a fastball that peaks in the mid to upper 90s and velocity that is probably trending upward. This is a guy who’s gained 10 MPH on his fastball over the last 3 years. Odds are he’ll probably continue to grow. But upside is unpredictable. When you look at the first high school starting pitchers taken in the draft over the last 15 years, it doesn’t bode well.

  • 2006- Clayton Kershaw
  • 2007- Jarrod Parker
  • 2008- Ethan Martin
  • 2009- Matt Hobgood (Never pitched in the Majors)
  • 2010- Jameson Taillon 
  • 2011- Dylan Bundy
  • 2012- Max Fried
  • 2013- Kohl Stewart
  • 2014- Brady Aiken (Never signed, never pitched in the Majors)
  • 2015- Koby Allard
  • 2016- Ian Anderson
  • 2017- MacKenzie Gore
  • 2018- Ryan Weathers
  • 2019- Jackson Rutledge 
  • 2020- Mick Abel

15 pitchers, 1 first ballot Hall Of Famer and 14 pitchers who have combined for a grand total of zero All-Star teams. Word is still out on a lot of the recent guys. It does appear like MacKenzie Gore will be a stud for the Padres, but the fact is that taking a starting pitcher in the first round is a risk. You can never have enough starting pitching, but it’s the durability that I worry about. You can call me pessimistic but the pessimism is justified when the numbers back up your argument, and starting pitchers coming out of high school have not had a particularly high success rate in the first round over the last decade plus. If it works, he’ll probably be a bona fide ace. I hope he does wonderful things in Detroit, but history doesn’t bode well. Also, I don’t buy the whole argument of “Well, Avila knows that the Tigers are going to sign a shortstop so that’s why they didn’t take Marcello Mayer.” That’s nonsense. The Red Sox have Xander Bogaerts manning short and they still took Mayer 4th overall. The Astros took Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman (two shortstop prospects) in back-to-back drafts. If you can hit, they’ll find a spot for you. 

I would guess this was probably the toughest 1st round pick that Al Avila has had since he took over as GM of the Tigers in July of 2015. It’s easy to take the best guy available. Every GM in the world would have drafted Casey Mize or Spencer Torkelson. There was no clear-cut number one in this year‘s draft, and a lot of people were stunned that Henry Davis went first overall. It was much more wide-open, and while they took a guy with maybe the highest ceiling. I think it’s also fair to say that he may have the lowest floor. I hope he stays healthy and I hope he deals. He’s a Tiger now, and I’m always going to root for him.