BYB 2021 Detroit Tigers prospects #15: Colt Keith carries some loud tools
It’s not easy to get cute in the Major League draft. Despite the endless scheme of obsessives in the major league, it is not an easy trick to save money for the bonus pool in the first rounds in order to gain a good, but not good, prep perspective later. Experience the Detroit Tigers’ draft in 2017 as they undercut JUCO thug Reynaldo Rivera in round two to save the money that can be used to lure prep catcher Sam McMillan in round four. McMillan might still make it as a backup catcher in the end, but otherwise the plan turned rounds two through four into a generalized debacle.
In 2020, with just five rounds, six picks, and the second largest bonus pool, the Tigers handled things much more effectively. Observers were generally impressed with their work on rounds one through four, and yet they managed to find the bonus pool spot to land Mississippi two-way prep star Colten Keith on round five. This could be one of the better maneuvers the Avila Front Office has done.
Keith was on the radar during his teenage baseball career in Mississippi. The Biloxi HS product was Magnolia State’s Gatorade Player of the Year for the 2018-2019 season after hitting .527 as a junior with eight home runs and performing well on the showcase circuit as well. He was required to play for the State of Arizona if neither team met his figure in the draft. If this design class turns out to be good, it will ultimately be remembered as the great Sun Devils raid in 2020 after the Tigers also designed Arizona State products Spencer Torkelson and Gage Workman. Ultimately, Keith’s asking price was not exorbitant. The Tigers signed him for a $ 500,000 bonus, just $ 75,000 above the fifth round slot value.
While playing a solid shortstop in high school, Keith works as a third baseman or possibly right-fielder in Pro Ball. His combination of height, athleticism, and arm strength should make him a top notch third baseman, although he is still considered pretty raw on the defensive is described. Keith posed in high school and was comfortable on the hill in the low 90s so the arm is more than enough to handle any position, even catcher. However, the Tigers are determined to move him to third base full time and have no apparent plans to develop him further as a pitcher.
Keith is six feet tall, three inches tall, and has a solid weight of 195 pounds. Compared to his colleagues, he has good strength potential. It should give strength to this framework as it develops. As a left-handed man, he made tons of hard contact with a solid, easy swing in high school and has a pretty good understanding of the strike zone. Despite his size, he’s also an average runner. All in all, he’s not a polished product in many ways, but beyond his youth the tools, die-hard mentality and work ethic speak well for further development.
As mentioned earlier, many of his skills are still in the process of building, especially his approach. This is understandable, as he worked his way through the prep pitching with consistent authority. But there is going to be a lot of work to be done there, as well as with his third base defensive fundamentals as he develops in pro ball. The Tigers should have little problem with the latter, but a long track record of trying to develop young rackets limits our confidence in their ability to get the best out of Keith until we see it unfold. Even so, there are a ton of advantages here with a player who is only 19 years old. With a new player development chief in Kenny Graham in his second season and a new stroke coordinator in Joel McKeithan for 2021, we hope to see dividends in this department.
Projected 2021 team: Gulf Coast Tigers
Prior to COVID, Keith would likely have gotten a start at the rookie ball level in the Gulf Coast League, followed by a move to the Connecticut short season A-ball to get used to the travel and lifestyle. With that level gone now, we’ll see how aggressive the Tigers are with him this season. The next step out of the GCL is now to simply play with the Lakeland Flying Tigers on the other side of the complex in Publix Field. If things go well this spring, Keith should be ready for the jump in the summer months.