Round 5, Pick 135: Tanner Kohlhepp – RHP, Notre Dame (NCAA)
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Well, if the last few picks have told fans anything, it is that the scouting department and front office are big fans of hard-throwing pitchers. Tanner Kohlhepp is another example of this. When the Detroit Tigers selected Kohlhepp from Notre Dame, it was another right-handed arm for the organization.
The right-hander has battled through some adversity in college baseball but is now labeled as a hard thrower who can get up to 99 mph and works the mid-90s. He’s 6-foot-4 and weighs in at 210 pounds, and just finished up his first season with the Fighting Irish.
With Notre Dame, he was used as a multi-inning reliever who could come into the game and throw absolute gas to shut down the other team. He logged 61.1 innings pitched in 23 appearances where he had a 3.08 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP, and was able to punch out 65 opposing hitters.
For the most part, he’s a fastball/slider guy; however, MLB dot com has him throwing a changeup that has “nifty fade,” as it was labeled in his draft report. Otherwise, he throws a fastball that is challenging. It runs and even has some sink to it, challenging hitters.
Facing mid- to upper-90s that runs and sinks in on the hands for righties has to be nearly impossible to hit. He mixes in a slider that can be slower with more wipeout/back-foot look to it or throw it harder where the break is tighter and harder to read.
Kohlhepp is not afraid to challenge hitters, and that is quite evident. After not quite having the smoothest college career, he had to earn his innings when he got to Notre Dame. He was able to do that, and in the process, he pieced together a quality season in 2021 for the Fighting Irish.
He only started one game in 2021 for Notre Dame, but it seems like he might be able to do so in the minor leagues. The hope for the Tigers should be for Kohlhepp to settle in easily and be able to make the jump/adjustment to the professional ball lifestyle. He has plenty to work on, including the ability to consistently locate every outing.
If this gives fans any clue as to what the Tigers draft class is going to look like, they should realize the following…
The draft class is going to be built on guys who are going to be looking to refine tools and become standouts in areas X, Y,& Z to become trade bait or become well worth a roster spot. The Tigers are adding arms with high velocity with hope that the reward outweighs the risk.
While every single one of the Tigers picks comes with risk, whether it’s Jackson Jobe at three or whoever the Tigers take in the 20th round, there is plenty to get behind with the players the Tigers draft.
Fans need to trust the Tigers scouting department, Avila had pieced together some good drafts, and there should be a lot to enjoy.
All of that being said, congratulations to the new draft picks, and best of luck on the Road To Detroit.