Tigers know jewels found later in Draft
Zumaya not only big name culled outside top rounds
Joel Zumaya didn't have a party on his Draft day. He didn't have high expectations or massive contract hopes. He got a day off from school and a chance and a nice bonus to sign a professional contract.
"Sat around at home," Zumaya said, "and after the fifth round, I went outside along with my buddies. My mom and dad eventually heard and called me up and told me I got drafted. There were no memories. We were out in front, just hanging out."
By the time Zumaya was drafted in the 11th round back in 2002, he had long since stopped paying close attention. But his triple-digit fastball drew everyone's attention when he got to the big leagues in 2006.
The Tigers have earned plenty of acclaim and built a good part of the core for their success in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft, from Justin Verlander to Rick Porcello, Cameron Maybin to Andrew Miller, and now Ryan Perry. But without the talent they've built from the fourth round on, they'd be a team with star power and no depth.
As this year's Draft heads into the Day 3, scouting director David Chadd's job rolls on. He's looking for the best player available as each pick comes up, trying to bolster a Tigers system with young talent. History shows the Tigers, even with their big-name players, rely on it.
After 30 rounds of selections through Day 2, the Draft will conclude on Thursday with the 31st through 50th rounds, beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET.
MLB.com's coverage will include a live pick-by-pick audio stream, expert commentary and the exclusive Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player, featuring statistics, scouting reports and video highlights.
Fans will not only be able to follow along every minute of the way online, but they'll be able to interact directly with Draft-eligible players and MLB.com Draft experts, among others.
The Draft Tracker will also feature the addition of Twitter, and the participation of "tweeters" such as MLB.com Draft expert @JonathanMayoB3, who will also be serving as on-air talent for all three days of the Draft; and reporter @LisaWinstonMLB, who will be writing the up-to-the-minute coverage for MLB.com.
In addition, MLB.com has created a Twitter account devoted to the Draft, where you can stay updated on every piece of info as it becomes available (@MLBDraft).
Zumaya is the Tigers' best example of what's at stake from here on out, albeit a bit of a fortunate development. His fastball, tempered by heavy use in high school, was a lower-90s pitch that Detroit officials, from then-scouting director Greg Smith on down, couldn't have expected would turn into a 100-mph weapon.
Detroit's late-inning relief force was a middle-round find. But he was far from the only contributor to this season's first-place team that came after the first few rounds.
Consider where the Tigers would be this season without outfielder Clete Thomas, a sixth-round selection in 2005 out of the Auburn outfield who steadily progessed through the system until he arrived last year. Before Jeff Larish became a big left-handed power bat in Detroit's dugout last summer, he was a College World Series masher who earned a fifth-round selection in 2005 after his senior season at Arizona State. Utility man Ryan Raburn was a fifth-round selection in 2001 out of junior college who proved his versatility on his way through the system.
Moreover, many of Detroit's acquisitions from other clubs started out as what would now be second-day players. Edwin Jackson went from a sixth-round pick of the Dodgers in 2001 to his Major League debut on his 20th birthday two years later. Second baseman Placido Polanco went in the eighth round in 2004 to the Cardinals, who called him up in 1998. Dontrelle Willis went in the same round to the Cubs in 2000, three years before he helped fuel the Marlins' run to the World Series.
Other eventual Tigers taken later:
Brandon Lyon went from a 14th-round pick of the Blue Jays in 1999 to a shot in Toronto two years later at age 21.
Zach Miner went to the Braves in the fourth round out of high school in 2000. He made it to the big leagues six years and one organization later.
Nate Robertson was a fifth-round pick of the Florida Marlins in 1999, a year after undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament surgery while at Wichita State.
Marcus Thames was a multi-sport athlete in Mississippi when the Yankees found him in the 30th round in 1996. Nearly six years to the day, he homered off Randy Johnson at Yankee Stadium in his first Major League at-bat.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.