max clark tigers 1st draft pick 2023

Tigers Either Whiffed or Wowed With 1st Round Pick Max Clark

Sometimes you can be too smart for your own good. Sometimes you may be trying too hard to seem like the smartest person in the room. Sometimes instead of being smart, you make a fool of yourself.

Detroit Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris is in danger of doing all three of those things.

At the MLB Amateur Draft, Harris used the third overall pick to take Max Clark, a high school outfielder from Indiana. The selection surprised many draft experts who projected the team would pick a college outfielder.

Clark now represents the first test of Harris' acumen. If Clark ends up being anything less than an MLB star, Harris will be skewered. Of course, that’s not fair, but that’s how big-time professional sports work these days.

Pseudo-experts, charlatans, and TV gurus on top of the food chain

We live in an era of “draft experts” “projected picks” and “top 100 blue chip prospects.” In all of the major sports, a cottage industry now exists of “gurus” who rate, rank, and break down teenagers and college ballplayers. It’s mostly nonsense. The “rankings” of prospects are poppycock, as evidenced by the terrible success rate of predicting which players end up as stars. Many fans, unfortunately, eat the “clickbait content” up, and truly believe that a #3 prospect at Double-A is worth more than the #7 prospect at Single-A, or the MLB veteran that might be traded for either of them.

It’s very hard to predict which amateur baseball players will go on to stardom. Even when the “experts” say differently, they don't know. They don’t have a clue.

Still, the choice of Clark, a high schooler, flies against the current wisdom that college athletes are easier to project, and closer to contributing. That last point is particularly key for the Tigers, a team on its way to 90+ losses for the fifth time in the last six full MLB seasons. Detroit needs help (especially offense) now.

Clark will be 19 next spring when training camp opens. He was named National Player of the Year by Gatorade, but he’s never faced the type of pitching he will encounter in the professional ranks. Sure, he may buck trends and matriculate through the Tiger's minor league system rapidly. But, that’s rare.

The last time a player as young as 21 had as many as 100 hits in a season for the Tigers was in 1979 when Alan Trammell did it. Only one position player in the last 43 seasons has played as many as 80 games in a season for the franchise: Riley Greene last season.

Clark, even if he’s a stud, will likely not join a Detroit lineup until 2027, or maybe 2026. By then, the team may have resurrected itself under Harris. Or, if the losses keep piling up, maybe Harris won’t even be around to see his first #1 pick in action.

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