Up next in our Detroit Tigers draft primer series, Gavin Cross, a left-handed hitting outfielder out of Virginia Tech University.
Yesterday, I discussed second baseman Jace Jung and how he could be a good fit for the Detroit Tigers at pick number 12. Several mock drafts have Detroit selecting him, including the latest one from Keith Law of the Athletic. ($) He comes with an impressive resume to the draft, including an impressive summer with the U.S. Collegiate National Team in 2021. Cross has one of the best bats in the draft and has speed to boot. Let’s dive into what Gavin Cross could bring to the Tigers.
Who is Gavin Cross?
The 6’3, 21o lb Cross was born in Bristol, Tennessee, and like a few others in the draft, comes from a baseball background. His father, Adam, spent three seasons in the minors with the Braves and Padres. While he was not a big recruit out of high school, he fit into Blacksburg just fine. In his freshman year at Virginia Tech, he was the first Hokie to be named to the All-ACC First Team in program history and first-ever ACC All-Freshman selection. In this clip below, he does a good job of creating lift in his swing, allowing him to barrel it up.
This season, he put up a slash line of .328/.411/.660 with 17 home runs and 50 RBIs. He showed impressive speed, going 12-for-12 on stolen base attempts. He cut his strikeouts from 48 over 208 at-bats to 41 with 244 as his walks jumped from 17 to 30. These numbers and the production he had for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team help him stand out. His .467 batting average lead the squad and he shared the team lead in homers with four.
“A left-hander at the plate, Cross does have the chance to be an above-average hitter with above-average power. Some evaluators have some concern about his contact rates and strike zone control, though he’s greatly improved his walk rate and cut down on the strikeouts this season while driving the ball consistently. “
From Kiley McDaniel of ESPN.com
“Cross has held serve as that J.J. Bleday-type: steady, well-rounded corner bat with strong performance, plus power and a high probability hit tool.”
How could this fit for the Detroit Tigers?
Teams have patterns with the draft, so for the Tigers, they have recent history with the ACC and Virginia Tech. Outfield Kerry Carpenter, who leads the Tigers system with 23 home runs, went in the 19th round in the 2019 draft. In that same draft, Austin Bernger in the 9th round out of North Carolina. The rest of the list since 2017:
2018-Adam Wolf (Louisville), Brock Deatherage (North Carolina State), Daniel Reyes and Jeb Bargfeldt (Miami)
2017- Brad Bass (Norte Dame)
Similar to Jung, Cross comes into the draft as a polished hitter and could make his way quickly through the system. The outfield depth in the system is currently shallow and having a bat like Cross would be an instant boost. As I said about Jung, if Cross is there, Detroit should pull the trigger quickly.