Up next in our Detroit Tigers draft primer series, LHP Connor Prielipp who continues to rise in several mock drafts.
Another pitcher? The collective groan of the Detroit Tigers fans was rather audible on social media when even suggested. Then, as the mock drafts were coming out, first with Kiley McDaniel of ESPN projecting Connor Prielipp as the Tigers’ pick, ($) Baseball America also went with Prielipp with their latest mock draft. ($) He comes in as the 17th ranked prospect in the draft according to ESPN.
Because of the anemic offensive numbers this season, those gripes grow louder. But before the pitchforks rise in the air, let’s take a deeper diver on this lefty out of the University of Alabama.
Who is Connor Prielipp?
The 6’2 210 Prielipp hails from Wisconsin as he was the top-rated left-handed pitcher and no.2 overall player in the state by Perfect Game USA. He was also selected as the 2019 Gatorade State High School Player of the Year. Out of high school, he was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 37th round in the 2019 draft, but headed to Alabama. In his freshman year, he struck out 35 in 21 innings pitched and held batters to just a .077 batting average.
Brian Sakowski of Perfect Game USA had this to say about Prielipp:
“Early favorite for ’22 1:1 after he started the ’20 season so well. Has TJ obviously. Premium slider quality, 70 grade pitch. Think there’s a plus fastball in there as well. 3rd pitch questions and general lack of data on him, the upside hasn’t dissipated.”
It draws a similar comp to what Kiley McDaniel said in his mock draft article. In the video below, it gets slowed down. The mechanics to me look repeatable as he releases from what it appears as he throws at a short-arm high 3/4 angle. Since he missed a majority of 2021 season, he has been throwing for scouts. His slider is definitely a wipe out pitch to go along with a two-seamer that has good movement.
Here’s some more recent video of him throwing at the MLB Draft Combine.
He has the makings of a solid major league starter because of his high ceiling.
Connor Prielipp’s Scouting Grades
ESPN: Fastball: 55/60, Slider: 55/65, Changeup: 45/50, Command: 40/50
MLB.com: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
How does he fit with the Detroit Tigers?
This is the tough part. As much as Detroit has drawn from their pitching depth from their farm system this season, they could use more arms. I will have this on my epitaph one day and that is, you can never have enough pitching. With that being said, if we look at the recent history of the Tigers and the University of Alabama, they are very familiar with each other.
- 2021 RHP Dylan Smith 3rd round
- 2014 RHP Spencer Turnbull 2nd round
- 2012 OF Jared Reaves 25th round
- 2010 RHP Tyler White 20th and Clay Jones 32nd round
- 2008 C Alex Avila 2nd round
- 2007 Cale Iorg 6th round
However, we have seen a shift in what the Tigers are doing and that is simply put; they are actually are developing pitchers for the first time since the 1970s that are just in the top 5 rounds. With that ability, Detroit could use that ability to pick a pitcher at pick number 51 or later. The amount of offense talent in this draft with high ceilings is pretty good. Injuries have taken their toll on the pitchers, Prielipp included.
I understand the upside to this pick. It is important to remember unlike the NFL or NBA, whoever they pick may take a minute to come up to Detroit. Then again, Miami Marlins right-hander Max Meyer will make his major debut this weekend and he was drafted 3rd overall in 2020.However the top of the draft plays out, if all the bats Detroit wants are gone, they may go with Prielipp. We shall see.