Tigers not changing draft outlook
Picking No. 27, Detroit to select 'best player available'
Scouting director David Chadd finds himself in position somewhere no Tigers official has had to go in quite some time. As he prepares for his third time running the Tigers' draft effort, Chadd is going to have to wait, because the Tigers are drafting late.
Call it the price of success. Since the draft runs in reverse order of regular-season record, alternating by league, the Tigers haven't drafted outside the top 10 since 1998, the year they selected Jeff Weaver with the 14th pick. At No. 27 in the June 7-8 First-Year Player Draft, they haven't drafted this late since '91, when the Tigers loaded up on free agents the previous winter and lost their first-round pick.
For a team used to having a short list based on how many teams draft above them, it's a change, of course, especially in a year when the draft is already changing for television. Yet Chadd's outlook on the Tigers' selection is the same.
"We're going to continue to do what we've always done," Chadd said. "[Draft] the best player available."
Best player available, of course, is a relative term. In a draft that's seen as a lighter than past years on top college talent, the pool leans more towards high school players, especially pitchers. It's historically a gamble in the draft -- the Tigers know that from the injuries and struggles of former first-round picks Matt Wheatland and Nate Cornejo in recent years -- but it's an easier gamble to take when the Tigers already have arms in the upper levels of the farm system.
"You just have to be right in your evaluations," Chadd said. "Although injuries are unpredictable, you know that's the risk that you're taking. You just trust your ability as a scout."
Much of what the Tigers do still depends on what teams do ahead of them, not that it's a new role for them. When the Tigers picked sixth last year, they changed course quickly to pounce when Andrew Miller surprisingly fell to their slot out of contract concerns.
Those kinds of gifts aren't expected to happen at No. 27, but others initially slated for the middle of the round could still fall. Part of that depends on how teams react to changes that go into effect this year, setting a deadline for signing picks. Chadd says every year around this time that it's difficult to predict what teams ahead of them will do, but this one is likely tougher on sheer numbers.
In the days leading up, Chadd will have the same size list of finalists as previous years for their pick, likely 8-10 players once the Tigers manage to eliminate 5-10 guys that they're certain will go ahead of them. The list is expected to include a strong presence of high-school hurlers, a group that includes hard-throwing Florida prep product Michael Main.
The 2007 First-Year Player Draft takes place at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando. The first round will be aired on ESPN2 beginning at 2 p.m. ET. MLB.com will have every pick of the 50-round draft, start to finish.
Here's a look at the Tigers' last three first-round picks:
Andrew Miller, LHP, 2006, pick No. 6: The lanky lefty didn't have to wait long before making his Major League debut in Detroit's bullpen last August, but this season has been more about development as a starting pitcher for the 22-year-old. He started the year at Class A Lakeland before jumping to Double-A Erie, then made his first big-league start May 18 against St. Louis. He's now back at Erie, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him return to Detroit by summer's end with a potential full-time stay next year.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Cameron Maybin, OF, 2005, pick No. 10 -- Maybin has displayed five-tool talent at the Class A level, last season at West Michigan and this one at Lakeland. His power has yet to emerge, having gone without a home run for over a month, but it's seen as the final stage of his development as he fills out. He's viewed as the eventual next center fielder in Detroit, possibly arriving by the end of next season.
Justin Verlander, RHP, 2004, pick No. 2 -- The Tigers took Verlander on the strength of a 99-mph fastball, but he polished the rest of his game faster than expected to make his Major League debut the next summer. He made the big-league rotation last spring, and the rest is history.
Rising fast: Clete Thomas, a speedy sixth-round selection in 2005, split that summer between Oneonta and low-A West Michigan before spending last season at Lakeland, where he stole 34 bases while committing just three errors over 132 games in center field. He's currently roaming center at Erie.
Cinderella story: Dallas Trahern came with much higher expectations than a typical 34th-round selection, having gone so late because he was considered unsignable by most clubs. Even so, Trahern has steadily risen each year up the farm system with low ERAs as a starting pitcher ever since the Tigers drafted him in 2004. He's now finally earning attention as the Eastern League wins leader at Erie.
In the show: 2006 -- Miller; 2005 -- None; 2004 -- Verlander
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.