Detroit Tigers: Dylan Smith is better than he looks on paper

(Tuscaloosa News)
(Tuscaloosa News) /

The Detroit Tigers selected a starting pitcher with the 74th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. They opted to go with Dylan Smith, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Alabama of the SEC conference.

On paper and statistically, it seems like the Detroit Tigers may have “missed” on this pick. However, local metro Detroit media seems to think the organization missed on every pick. The national media seems to think otherwise.

There’s plenty to like and plenty to be unsure about that is easy to see, but with Smith, there’s plenty to like. Even though the pick on paper may not be great, Smith is a phenomenal value pick. The Crimson Tide right-hander has some intriguing stuff that appears to play well.

The 2021 MLB Draft rankings had him stationed at 74th overall, coincidentally right where the Tigers selected him. However, it seems like he might even have warranted a higher ranking, but the statistics may not have lit up the world of as many scouts.

The Detroit Tigers made an exceptional pick with Dylan Smith in the third round.

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Looking at Smith’s 2021 season, it was quite the switch-up from years prior. Detroit Free Press labeled it as a breakthrough season for Smith, and that’s quite fitting. He made a jump in the draft rankings, and the Freep’s article said it was a product of throwing more strikes.

He would finish 2021 with 16 starts, and a total of 98.1 innings pitched. The righty pitched to a 3.84 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and collected 113 strikeouts.  It’s an improvement from his 2019 and 2020 statistics, but his 2021 improvements are a sign of good change.

Smith works the mid-90s on a fastball that has good life to it, and he located much better in 2021. In 2019, the last full season he played due to the pandemic, he threw 58% strikes overall in 2021 that number had risen to 67% overall.

The fastball command moving in the right direction is good for Smith; he has worked up 96 mph on the heater. He pairs that with his low- to mid-80s slider that has good tilt and sweep to it. At times it can be a little more slurvy when he gets more vertical break to it, and it has more of an 11-to-5 break but still shows some sweep.

While it appears as a three-pitch mix, it’s more than likely a slider/curveball combination. But it looks similar. He tends to stick with the nasty slider but has shown comfort dropping in the 11-to-5 breaking curveball as well.

Beyond that, Smith has shown a feel for a changeup. Though he did not throw it many times this year, it has great movement to it. It fades arm-side and looks like a quality fourth offering. Overall, the Tigers made a great selection with the decision to select Smith.

The stuff looks quite good, and with the right development, he could be morphed into a truly exciting pitching prospect. The Tigers know a thing or two about exciting pitching prospects, and with a pitcher-heavy class, the hope should be high that a few of these guys become high-level prospects.

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The Detroit Tigers got it right with Dylan Smith; he’s going to be much better than it may seem on paper.