Draft Preview: Tigers have lots of flexibility
For first time in years, Detroit has no first-round pick
DETROIT -- The Tigers knew this would be the time when they paid the price for signing free agent Jose Valverde and forfeiting their first-round pick in the process. They'll gladly pay it, but they believe there's still premium talent to be found with the 44th and 48th picks, sandwich selections they gained for losing Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney to free agency.
The 2010 First-Year Player Draft will mark the first time in years that the Tigers won't technically have a first-round selection, but their history of investing big in Draft signings gives them the ability to make up for dropping in the order. Moreover, they've put in a heavy scouting effort to try to prepare themselves for any possibility.
"But I'll tell you what," scouting director David Chadd said. "I'll take Valverde [and give up the pick] all day long."
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft from Monday to Wednesday on MLB.com/Live. The first round and Compensation Round A will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday, beginning with the Draft preview show at 6 p.m. ET.
MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo will join Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, John Hart, Peter Gammons and Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis on Monday's broadcast.
Coverage for rounds 2-50 will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live. Rounds 2-30 will be streamed on Tuesday, beginning at noon, and rounds 31-50 will be streamed on Wednesday, starting at noon. Host Pete McCarthy will be joined by Mayo and former general manager Jim Duquette.
Here's a glance at what the Tigers have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
If the Tigers could choose a year not to have a first-round pick, they might not have had better timing. Many label this year's as a good Draft, but maybe not a great one. The depth in the opening rounds revolves around high school pitching that presents buying opportunities should signability issues cause players to fall. The Tigers believe there's deep enough talent to get the right guys.
"Strategically, you've got to look at different things. At 44 and 48, you have to talk strategically about what-ifs. You look at that with the two picks that close together, and you throw things around. It goes back to grinding it out all the way to 7 o'clock Monday." -- Chadd
The fact that the Tigers have two picks, five selections apart, gives them a ton of flexibility. It would not be a surprise to see them go for at least one high school arm with their sandwich picks, and maybe even two if some highly touted talent falls. But they're also leaving open the possibility for hitting talent.
Detroit has a slew of pitching talent, both starters and relievers, but they'll always look to add to those ranks. With their top hitting talent generally concentrated toward the top level, they could look to replenish in the middle rounds. And even with Alex Avila considered their catcher of the future, the Tigers could use more backstops.
The Tigers had considerable success last year selecting high school players and then signing them. The depth of prep pitching in this year's Draft gives them ample opportunity to do that again, especially in the early rounds.
Recent Draft History
Daniel Fields, last year's sixth-round pick and a Detroit native, was expected to open his pro career at a lower level, but needs opened a chance for him early at Class A Lakeland, well ahead of schedule. He's trying to find his way at the plate while also learning center field for the first time in his life, but his athleticism and his grasp of the game is helping him along the learning curve.
Giovany Soto went in the 21st round of last year's Draft, but he has so far been the pitching star at Class A West Michigan, where he owned a sub-2.00 ERA entering the weekend along with a complete-game shutout and 48 strikeouts over 49 2/3 innings. The lanky left-hander has dominated hitters since making his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League last summer.
In the Show
Few teams have benefited from players in recent Drafts rising quickly quite like the Tigers, who have a front-line starter (Rick Porcello), a setup man (Ryan Perry) and a catcher (Avila) from their past three Drafts. Porcello and Perry were top picks from 2007 and 2008, respectively, and Avila went in the fifth round in '08. Rookie sensation Brennan Boesch and Opening Day second baseman Scott Sizemore were 2006 Draft selections. Sixteen Detroit Draft selections since 2005 have played somewhere in the Majors.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.