Whitecap’s advice to Tigers draft picks: ‘Be hungry’

Detroit Tigers

The West Michigan Whitecaps play the Lake County Captains on May 25, 2021. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan Whitecaps outfielder Braynt Packard was drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft.

The minute he signed that dotted line, how he looked at the game of baseball changed.

“Be hungry. This is a job now,” Packard said to himself on his draft day. “We’re actually getting paid to do this. Growing up, you couldn’t do stuff with your friends and it felt kind of like a job. Now it actually is. It’s next-man-up mentality, professional baseball is a business and they are always looking for a guy.

“Prove you belong.”

Those were the words of advice he had for anyone coming into the Detroit Tigers organization following the 2021 MLB draft, which ended Monday.

The Tigers started off the draft selecting likely the top pitching prospect with the No. 3 overall pick, right-handed pitcher Jackson Jobe out of Heritage Hall High School in Oklahoma. Reaching 99 mph and having a plus slider were two key reasons he was called first.

With their competitive balance round A pick, the Tigers elected to double down on pitching. With the No. 32 pick, they selected right-handed pitcher Ty Madden from Texas University. To start off the second round, Detroit drafted for arguably the biggest hole in its organization at shortstop: Izaac Pacheco (who also plays third base) from Friendswood High School in Texas was the No. 39 overall pick.

Here is a complete list of the Tigers’ draft selections 4 through 20:

  • Third round: Pick 3 (No. 74): Dylan Smith, RHP, Alabama
  • Fourth round: Pick 3 (No. 104): Tyler Mattison, RHP, Bryant
  • Fifth round: Pick 3 (No. 135): Tanner Kohlhepp, RHP, Notre Dame
  • Sixth round: Pick 3 (No. 165): Austin Murr, OF, North Carolina State
  • Seventh round: Pick 3 (No. 195): Brant Hurter, LHP, Georgia Tech
  • Eighth round: Pick 3 (No. 225): Jordan Marks, RHP, South Carolina-Upstate
  • Ninth round: Pick 3 (No. 255): Garrett Burhenn, RHP, Ohio State
  • 10th round: Pick 3 (No. 285): Austin Schultz, OF, Kentucky
  • 11th round: Pick 3 (No. 315): Josh Crouch, C, Central Florida
  • 12th round: Pick 3 (No. 345 overall): Mike Rothenberg, C, Duke
  • 13th round: Pick 3 (No. 375 overall): Chris Meyers, 1B, Toledo
  • 14th round: Pick 3 (No. 405 overall): RJ Petit, RHP, Charleston Southern
  • 15th round: Pick 3 (No. 435 overall): Blake Holub, RHP, St. Edward’s
  • 16th round: Pick 3 (No. 465 overall): Jack Anderson, RHP, Florida State
  • 17th round: Pick 3 (No. 495 overall): Aaron Haase, RHP, Wichita State
  • 18th round: Pick 3 (No. 525 overall): Ben Malgeri, OF, Northeastern
  • 19th round: Pick 3 (No. 555 overall): Justice Bigbie, 1B, Western Carolina
  • 20th round: Pick 3 (No. 585 overall): JD McLaughlin, OF, Central Arizona College

Since the Whitecaps are the High-A farm club team for Detroit, manager Brayan Pena will be one of the first coaches getting to work with these draft picks.

After his experiences with players like Dillon Dingler and Spencer Torkelson, who have already moved up to Erie in Double A, and players like Daniel Cabrera, who is still with the Whitecaps following the 2020 MLB Draft, he couldn’t be more thrilled.

“The future for our organization is very bright,” Pena said. “We believe in our younger players and right now we are in a pretty good position and we want to do whatever we can to help all of them to be better. We won’t get tired of working to make them better. At the end of the day, there is only one goal: making sure those guys get to Detroit and are in a position to win a World Series.”

Packard, after spending a brief time with the Whitecaps last year, speaks highly of the way the Tigers believe in their up-and-coming players.

“It feels like 10 years ago since draft day because of the pandemic,” Packard said. “(The Tigers) have a great farm system and they do a lot for us. I’m super excited to be here and I just love every part of it.”

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