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Detroit Tigers select Rice SS Trei Cruz in third round of MLB draft

Cruz selected with No. 73 overall pick

Rice shortstop Trei Cruz
Rice shortstop Trei Cruz (Associated Press)

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers selected Rice shortstop Trei Cruz in the third round of the MLB draft.

Cruz was selected with the No. 73 overall pick.

After taking players ranked higher than their final draft spot with their first two picks Thursday, the Tigers grabbed the No. 126 overall prospect at No. 73, according to MLB Pipeline.

Tigers 2020 draft picks:

Cruz slashed .296/.405/.482 with 16 home runs and 31 doubles in 132 career college games.

Like the three players selected by the Tigers earlier in this draft, Cruz has solid plate discipline. In 16 games during his final, shortened college season, he drew 18 walks and struck out 17 times.

MLB’s draft, usually 40 rounds, was shortened to five rounds because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. That was obviously a blow to the Tigers, as they would have had the top selection in each round.

No. 1 overall selection

The Tigers kicked off the 2020 MLB draft Wednesday by selecting Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson. He was announced as a third baseman when the Tigers made the pick.

Torkelson was considered the consensus No. 1 player in the draft. He slashed .337/.463/.729 with 54 home runs, 33 doubles and more walks (110) than strikeouts (104) in 129 career college games.

Torkelson was a unanimous All-American each of the last two seasons and twice played on Team USA.

Second-round pick

The Tigers drafted Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler to kick off the second-round of the MLB draft

The Tigers got a value with this pick, nabbing the No. 24 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Dingler was the third-ranked catcher in the class.

Dingler’s prospect status is built on his defense, as he’s ranked 55 in fielding and 65 in arm strength on the 20-80 scale.

He also has above-average speed for a catcher, as well as a solid bat with power potential behind the dish.

In three seasons with the Buckeyes, Dingler slashed .276/.367/.442 with 12 home runs, 21 doubles and 52 walks compared to 59 strikeouts in 115 games.

As a junior in 2020, Dingler was off to a hot start, batting .340 with five home runs, four doubles and a 1.164 OPS in 58 plate appearances before the pandemic canceled the season.

Compensatory pick

The Tigers took a third straight college bat in the Competitive Balance Round B of the draft.

Daniel Cabrera was the team’s selection at No. 62 overall. Cabrera was the No. 38 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Many thought the Tigers could take Cabrera at No. 38, so getting him at No. 62 was a value.

In three seasons with LSU, Cabrera slashed .305/.392/.518 with 22 home runs and 33 doubles. He drew 72 walks and had 102 strikeouts in 140 career college games.

Cabrera was batting .345 with two home runs, three doubles and a .966 OPS in 73 plate appearances this season before the pandemic.

Tigers rebuild

Detroit finished with the worst record in baseball last season for the second time in three years, going just 47-114. General manager Al Avila has stockpiled some exciting prospects, and they’re knocking on the door of the big league level.

Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal and Alex Faedo look like future members of the MLB rotation, while Riley Greene, Isaac Paredes and Torkelson hope to hit in the heard of the lineup.

The signings this offseason -- Jonathan Schoop, C.J. Cron, Austin Romine, Ivan Nova -- suggested Avila was ready to start actually improving the team on the field. With the prospect depth in the minors, the Tigers could turn back into a playoff contender in the next couple of years.


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