Here’s my pick-by-pick analysis of the Detroit Tigers’ 2009 draft, keeping in mind talent, draft value, and signability. The number before each player is the round in which they were picked, and their overall pick number is listed. Here’s the picks:
1. Jacob Turner, RHP, Westminster Christian Academy (MO), #9 overall, 6’4’’/205: Turner gained helium throughout much of the year based on his pure arm strength alone. He quickly gained fame for hitting 98 on the radar gun, and despite being a Scott Boras advisee, got picked at a fair spot here in the first. He signed a Major League deal at the deadline and did not pitch at the end of the season. DOB: 5/21/91. Signing bonus: $4,700,000*.
2. Andrew Oliver, LHP, Oklahoma State, #58 overall, 6’3’’/210: Oliver had a season that was pretty much the opposite of Turner’s. Another Scott Boras client, Oliver went through the tumultuous NCAA hearings about his eligibility, only to be reinstated and pitch poorly for his standards. He lost feel for his curveball and fell here, and the Tigers overspent for him. Mediocre pick, and he didn’t have any late-season innings. DOB: 12/3/87. Signing bonus: $1,495,000.
3. Wade Gaynor, 3B, Western Kentucky, #89 overall, 6’4’’/225: Gaynor was a quick mover in the spring, and he really ended up being drafted twenty rounds higher than most expected entering his junior season. He’s going to have to get by with his hitting, and he’s got good power and bat speed. He signed fairly quickly and hit .192/.281/.282 in 234 ABs with Oneonta in the New York-Penn League. Disappointing start. DOB: 4/19/88. Signing bonus: $392,400.
4. Edwin Gomez, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, #120 overall, 6’3’’/175: Gomez was one of those prospects that was more appealing to some than others. A shortstop as a prep, he’ll almost definitely have to move off there, but he might stick in center field with solid speed and athleticism. He’s a switch-hitter with good raw power, so this wasn’t a bad pick, just risky. The Tigers kept him at shortstop for his debut, and he hit .190/.233/.216 in 153 ABs in the GCL. DOB: 8/26/91. Signing bonus: $245,700.
5. Austin Wood, LHP, Texas, #150 overall, 6’2’’/195: Wood became famous in the extra-long extra innings NCAA Regional game against Boston College’s Mike Belfiore. However, as a senior sign, he really didn’t show anything extraordinary for pro scouts, and he still projects as a lefty middle reliever, with possibly enough stuff to get good righties out with lefties. After signing, he pitched 5 shutout innings with Lakeland in the Florida State League. DOB: 11/2/86. Signing bonus: $100,000.
6. Daniel Fields, SS, University of Detroit Jesuit HS (MI), #180 overall, 6’1’’/200: Fields was a highly-touted northern shortstop entering the year, but even after a monster senior year, some scouts still doubted his results against weaker competition. The local Tigers thought he displayed the tools to stick at shortstop, with an increasing ability to tear the cover off a ball. This is a projection pick, and I still think they overpaid, but it could pay off in the end. He didn’t play after signing at the deadline. DOB: 1/23/91. Signing bonus: $1,625,000.
7. Jamie Johnson, OF, Oklahoma, #210 overall, 5’8’’/185: This was probably on the upper-end of where Johnson was projected to go, but he’s still a solid player. With good speed and a solid hit tool, he’s got a leadoff man’s approach. That bodes well for a future fourth outfielder. He hit .241/.345/.367 in 270 ABs with Oneonta after signing. DOB: 4/26/87. Signing bonus: $125,000.
8. Craig Fritsch, RHP, Baylor, #240 overall, 6’4’’/190: Fritsch, like most Baylor pitchers, was a huge disappointment in the spring, and he went from possible first-round material to late-round follow material very quickly. He’s got a plus fastball, but his inconsistent slider and lack of a decent changeup hamper his pro potential. He didn’t sign, and he’ll return to Baylor for his junior year, where he might become a top five rounds pitcher. DOB: 12/29/87.
9. John Murrian, C, Winthrop, #270 overall, 6’2’’/215: Murrian was a three-year starter at Winthrop, and he looked like a good organizational catcher prospect with patience behind the plate. The Tigers overdrafted him a bit here, but he’s not a bad prospect. He signed quickly and hit .296/.356/.468 in 186 ABs with Oneonta while playing solid defense behind the plate. DOB: 6/15/88. Signing bonus: $100,000.
10. Chris Sedon, 2B, Pittsburgh, #300 overall, 5’10’’/175: Sedon had a huge junior year at Pitt after transferring in from a JUCO, and he was projected to go somewhere within a few rounds of this spot. He sacrificed a little contact for power, and that shows in his pro debut numbers. He hit .137/.221/.165 in 139 ABs with Oneonta, striking out 57 times. DOB: 11/6/87. Signing bonus: $74,000.
11. Adam Wilk, LHP, Long Beach State, #330 overall, 6’2’’/175: Wilk had a good junior year at LBSU, using pitchability to induce hitters into weak contact. He’s a lefty specialist at best in the pros, and the Tigers probably went a few rounds too high on him. He had 14 great starts split between Oneonta and West Michigan in the Midwest League to start his pro career. DOB: 12/9/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
12. Matt Thomson, RHP, San Diego, #360 overall, 6’4’’/200: Thomson, like Fritsch, was a heralded arm entering the spring, but well when he posted less than stellar results. With average stuff, Thomson relies more on command, and he didn’t really have it as a junior. He didn’t sign, and he’ll return to USD in hopes of landing a spot 5-7 rounds higher in 2010. DOB: 3/22/88.
13. Michael Rockett, OF, UT-San Antonio, #390 overall, 6’1’’/180: A senior outfielder, Rockett had an impressive spring, enticing scouts to think of him as an early-teens fifth outfielder type of player. This was about where I expected him to go, and he hit .274/.306/.380 in 266 ABs with Oneonta, followed by a quick trip to Toledo in AAA to finish out the year. DOB: 7/26/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
14. Kevan Hess, RHP, Western Michigan, #420 overall, 6’2’’/190: Hess was more known as a catcher in college, though he moved into a relief role during the spring. He’s understandably raw on the mound, but after not expecting to him to get drafted at all, I say he’s done well for himself. Crazy pick, but he did got 2-0 with a 4.30 ERA in 44 innings with Oneonta after signing. Strange. DOB: 3/30/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
15. Mark Appel, RHP, Monte Vista HS (CA), #450 overall, 6’4’’/195: This marks the turning point to unsignable and organizational players in Detroit’s draft. Appel was a highly touted prep with great raw stuff, but he lacked the refinement of the top prep arms. Thought of as unsignable, he dropped ten to twelve rounds below his talent level, and he didn’t sign with the Tigers. Watch for his name in 2012. DOB: 7/15/91. Commitment: Stanford.
16. Kenny Faulk, LHP, Kennesaw State, #480 overall, 6’0’’/210: Faulk is a future lefty specialist that was a senior sign for the Tigers. He hasn’t done anything outside of relieving in college, so I expect he’ll go up the chain relatively quickly in a similar role in the pros. He went 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 28.2 innings with Oneonta after signing. DOB: 5/27/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
17. Nathan Newman, RHP, Pepperdine, #510 overall, 6’5’’/215: After not signing as a tenth rounder a year ago with the Mariners, Newman struggled a bit during the spring at Pepperdine. A senior, Newman’s going to get by on his pro body and possible swing man stuff. He went 2-1 with a 2.34 ERA in 42.1 innings with Oneonta after signing. DOB: 12/17/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
18. Eric Roof, C, Michigan State, #540 overall, 6’3’’/185: Another senior, Roof was a late-round pick of the Tigers a year ago, but didn’t sign. He’s a little big for catching, and he lacks pop, so he’s probably a first baseman at best. He hit .213/.291/.283 in 127 ABs with Oneonta after signing. DOB: 11/15/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
19. Rawley Bishop, 3B, Middle Tennessee State, #570 overall, 6’3’’/200: Bishop has mashed in three of his four years at Middle Tennessee, but he lacks pro tools, especially defensively for third base. He’s probably another organizational depth kind of player, but most likely at first base, where he played in his pro debut. He hit .282/.378/.439 in 255 ABs with Oneonta. DOB: 11/19/85. Signing bonus: Unknown.
20. Jimmy Gulliver, SS, Eastern Michigan, #600 overall, 5’11’’/180: Gulliver was a second baseman in college that didn’t blossom until his age-23 year at Eastern Michigan. He lacks any sort of pro tools, so he’s an organizational infielder now. He was awful in his debut with Oneonta at the plate and in the field. He hit .196/.285/.223 in 148 ABs. DOB: 6/6/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
21. Giovanni Soto, LHP, Carolina (PR), #630 overall, 6’3’’/155: Soto was a late-round pick of the Phillies a year ago, and I haven’t heard anything to show me that he’s much better. He signed, but did not pitch before the season ended. DOB: 5/18/91. Signing bonus: Unknown.
22. Matt Mansilla, OF, Charleston, #660 overall, 5’11’’/180: Mansilla comes from the prep powerhouse American Heritage, where he was a 22nd round pick of the White Sox five years ago. A fifth-year senior, Mansilla managed to go undrafted in-between all those years. He showed good power with Charleston as a senior, but struck out way too much, making him organizational filler. He hit .175/.281/.267 in 120 ABs with Oneonta, playing left field. DOB: 5/25/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
23. Cory Hamilton, RHP, UC Irvine, #690 overall, 6’1’’/195: The first college junior taken in awhile for the Tigers, Hamilton had an up and down college career. Pitching mostly out of the bullpen after missing almost all of 2008, Hamilton was hit hard and was wild. He’s a wild card arm, but with mixed results. He went 4-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 44.2 innings with Oneonta after signing. DOB: 4/15/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
24. Wade Kapteyn, RHP, Evansville, #720 overall, 6’5’’/235: Kapteyn was drafted late last year by the Twins as a draft-eligible sophomore, but didn’t sign. His younger brother Braden may be a high pick in 2011, but this Kapteyn was slotted for somewhere in this range after rough years as a starter at Evansville. He won’t miss bats. He went 1-5 with a 7.27 ERA in 34.2 innings with Oneonta after signing. DOB: 7/11/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
25. Victor Roache, OF, Lincoln HS (MI), #750 overall, 6’1’’/195: Roache was another of Michigan’s best preps, and the Tigers always seem to love their state prospects. Roache is extremely athletic, but extremely raw, though we could see him in the top five rounds in 2012. He didn’t sign. DOB: 9/17/91. Commitment: Georgia Southern.
26. Edgar Corcino, 3B, Adolfina Irizarry De Puig HS (PR), #780 overall, 6’2’’/190: Corcino was a third baseman as a prep, but he has good tools to be a catcher in the pros. I don’t expect him to ever hit enough to start, but he might be a backup option at some point. He went 4-for-25 in his debut in the GCL. DOB: 6/7/92. Signing bonus: Unknown.
27. Pat McKenna, SS, Bryant (RI), #810 overall, 5’9’’/170: Another senior, McKenna profiles as an up-the-middle organizational filler. His swing is too slow and long to really hit for anything, but he’ll provide stability as a backup. He hit .195/.295/.232 in 82 ABs in the GCL in his debut. DOB: 6/24/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
28. Tobin Mateychick, RHP, Enid HS (OK), #840 overall, 6’4’’/180: Mateychick is the definition of projectable, but he’s too raw even for the Tigers at this point. He’s got a good raw arm, but lacks command and polish. He’s the headliner for Wichita State’s recruiting class, and we’ll hear his name again in 2012. DOB: 8/13/90. Commitment: Wichita State.
29. Michael Morrison, RHP, Cal State Fullerton, #870 overall, 6’1’’/210: Morrison was a hugely disappointing prospect this spring, but I never expected him to fall this far and still sign. He’s got a good fastball-curveball combo from the bullpen, though his command needs significant work. He went 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in 19.1 innings with Oneonta after signing. This could be a steal. DOB: 12/17/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
30. James Robbins, 1B, Shorecrest HS (WA), #900 overall, 6’0’’/225: Robbins was a solid pitching prospect in addition to his hitting, and the Tigers ended up pushing to sign him for more than slot money late in the summer. He’s got plus raw power and will surprise some people. There’s always his pitching arm to fall back on. He went 13-for-36 (.361) in his pro debut in the GCL after signing. DOB: 9/26/90. Signing bonus: $235,000.
31. Andrew Walter, RHP, Cactus HS (AZ), #930 overall, 6’3’’/190: Walter shows a projectable pro body, but he lacks the polish of most prep arms. He’s likely to move into a bullpen role in college until his command firms up, so I expected him to be a late-round pick. He didn’t sign. DOB: 10/18/90. Commitment: San Diego.
32. Parker Markel, RHP, Mountain Ridge HS (AZ), #960 overall, 6’3’’/210: Markel’s body is a bit more mature than Walter’s, and I would have expected their draft positions to be reversed, with Markel going 15 rounds higher. However, Markel doesn’t have quite enough current stuff to handle the pros, and he’ll be a solid JUCO follow over the next two years. DOB: 9/15/90. Commitment: Yavapai JC (AZ).
33. Cody Keefer, OF, Davis HS (CA), #990 overall, 6’1’’/190: Keefer is an athletic outfielder that I expected to go 15 rounds higher as well. He hit very well in the West Coast League over the summer, and though the Tigers failed to sign him, he raised his stock for 2012. He’ll struggle for playing time his freshman year. DOB: 11/6/90. Commitment: UCLA.
34. Derek Kline, RHP, Millersville (PA), #1020 overall, 6’4’’/215: Kline is a big-bodied junior draft pick who will prosper from returning to school for his senior year. I expected him to be a late-round follow, and the Tigers didn’t see enough to try and sign him. DOB: 3/2/88.
35. Patrick Biondi, OF, Divine Child HS (MI), #1050 overall, 5’9’’/160: Biondi has plus speed to go with a leadoff man’s mentality, and he’s likely to step into that spot and start in center field from day one for Michigan. He doesn’t have enough strength to be a pro yet, so that would be why Detroit passed on him in earlier rounds. DOB: 1/9/91. Commitment: Michigan.
36. Ben Crumpton, SS, Lakeside HS (AR), #1080 overall, 5’11’’/180: Crumpton is one of those guys that’s known as an elite athlete, but isn’t what I would call a baseball player. He’s got plus speed, but little else in terms of baseball skills. He was a football standout, but he’s likely not a shortstop in the SEC. He didn’t sign. DOB: 10/12/90. Commitment: Arkansas.
37. Danny Canela, C, Florida Christian HS (FL), #1110 overall, 5’11’’/200: This was an unsignable pick from the get-go. Canela has a solid bat and solid defensive tools, but as you can tell by his size numbers, he’s pretty much maxed out. I heard some good things out of fall practice at NC State, so Canela could increase his stock after three years there. DOB: 12/24/90. Commitment: NC State.
38. Tarran Senay, OF, South Park HS (PA), #1140 overall, 6’1’’/205: Thou shalt not play football as a baseball prospect. Seriously. Senay broke his wrist playing football in the fall, and he never quite recovered from it, pushing him from a possible top ten round choice to this low on draft boards. He’s got plus power when healthy, and he flashed it this fall as Canela’s teammate. DOB: 10/20/90. Commitment: NC State.
39. Chad Duling, SS, Bishop Carroll HS (KS), #1170 overall, 6’0’’/175: Duling was a non-prospect, and I was a little surprised to see him drafted at all. He’s playing at Hutchinson CC now, but I don’t see him blossoming into anything big, even after a couple years there. DOB: 4/2/91. Commitment: Hutchinson CC (KS).
40. Ben Bechtol, C, Neshannock HS (PA), #1200 overall, 5’10’’/195: I have no idea who this is, and I lived in Pennsylvania during the spring. I have zero notes on him, but was able to find out he’s now going to Jefferson State CC in Alabama. Anyone know anything else? DOB: 9/22/90. Commitment: Jefferson State CC (AL).
41. Larry Balkwill, C, Ursuline College Chatham SS (ON), #1230 overall, 6’4’’/185: Balkwill’s a big kid who was projected to only go late as a follow, and that’s what happened. I don’t see catcher in his long-term future, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him blossom into a 12-15 round type of guy for 2012. DOB: 6/28/91. Commitment: Siena.
42. Nick Avila, RHP, Central Florida CC, #1260 overall, 6’2’’/220: Maxed-out physically and already old for a JUCO, Avila still didn’t sign. Hmm. DOB: 8/29/88. Commitment: Unknown.
43. Andrew Allen, 3B, Central Arizona JC, #1290 overall, 6’1’’/225: A late-round pick by the Diamondbacks out of high school, Allen’s gone nowhere in JUCO ball. He played first base at Central Arizona, so I was surprised to see him picked as a third baseman. Gotta think he was only drafted because he’s the son of a Detroit broadcaster. DOB: 7/10/89. Commitment: None.
44. Charlie Markson, OF, Whitefish Bay HS (WI), #1320 overall, 6’2’’/180: Markson became more well-known late in the spring as the teammate of Kevin James, who the Rays drafted in the 9th round and signed for $600,000. At the beginning of the year, Markson was the better prospect, though the main tools for him are his arm and his bat. He’s got enough tools to succeed, but he’s got to prove he’s strong enough to warrant an early-round pick in 2012. DOB: 2/6/91. Commitment: Notre Dame.
45. Jimmy Brennan, OF, Suffern HS (NY), #1350 overall, 6’0’’/185: A sweet-swinging lefty, Brennan was Suffern’s best senior on a team that includes major 2010 prospect Robbie Aviles. Brennan is taking his show to St. John’s, where he hopes to team with Kyle Hansen to form a pair of legitimate 2012 draft prospects. DOB: 12/18/90. Commitment: St. John’s.
46. Nate Goro, 3B, Lafayette HS (MO), #1380 overall, 6’0’’/185: Goro was supposed to go somewhere in the teens as a follow, but most passed up on him due to a lack of physical projection and his commitment to Wichita State. He got some good reviews in fall ball, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned into a decent top ten round type of guy for 2012. DOB: 11/30/90. Commitment: Wichita State.
47. Kevin Chambers, LHP, Capistrano Valley HS (CA), #1410 overall, 6’3’’/210: Chambers should only matter to you at this point as Tyler Matzek’s high school teammate. He’s short on projection and stuff, but has good size and should contribute in a collegiate bullpen right away. DOB: 11/30/90. Commitment: Oklahoma State.
48. Jake Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep HS (NJ), #1440 overall, 6’2’’/195: His last name’s Porcello. That’s why the Tigers picked him. No other reason. In all seriousness, Porcello was lucky to get drafted, but he’ll get three years to prove himself at Seton Hall. DOB: 4/2/91. Commitment: Seton Hall.
49. Cameron Giannini, RHP, Hargrave Military Academy (VA), #1470 overall, 6’4’’/210: Giannini’s got pro size, but not enough command to really show for a top prospect. He was expected to be a late-round follow, and that’s what came to pass. Having committed to a small program, I expect he’ll get plenty of chances to succeed starting early on. DOB: 8/23/91. Commitment: Liberty.
50. Nico Rosthenhausler, OF, South Mountain CC (AZ), #1500 overall, 6’0’’/200: Rosthenhausler has good bloodlines, but didn’t perform well enough as a sophomore at South Mountain to warrant any draft hype. He’ll take his skills with him to Arizona, where he should be a decent corner outfielder and 2010 draft prospect. DOB: 5/11/89. Commitment: Arizona.
This draft has arguably the highest upside of any drafts in the entire 2009 draft collection. The Tigers were able to sign three guys who rate out as first-round talent, and that was without having to settle on a cheaper first-round alternative. Turner has the definition of an elite arm, and he projects as a true number one starter. I’m not too happy that they went all the way by giving him a Major League deal, as that will really hamper their options with him. He won’t even get enough time to have a chance to fail at the minor league level. However, they got their target, and they should be happy that he lasted to the ninth pick. Oliver continues to be a tease with a great fastball, but no feel for a breaking pitch. He’s going to need to develop that breaking ball again, or else he’s going to be one expensive reliever. He pitched well in fairly limited action in the Arizona Fall League, but his command continues to be a problem, and righties noticeably handled him more easily than lefties. Fields, the third first-round talent in this group, comes with plenty of questions, as most Michigan prep shortstops should. Can he handle shortstop? Can he handle pro breaking stuff? Those are the big ones that should be answered a year from now. Beyond those three, the picks were solid, but not spectacular. Turner, Oliver, and Fields will make this draft or break it in the end.
As far as budgeting goes, Tiger fans should be greatly encouraged by the draft spending in 2009. After a fairly blah 2008 draft in terms of going for high-upside talents with big price tags, the Tigers went back to their 2007 ways, beginning with Turner. The $4.7 million bonus Turner got as part of his Major League deal came in as the 4th-highest bonus in the entire draft class, and it was the highest of all the prep pitchers in the class, $800,000 more than Tyler Matzek’s bonus. Oliver also got an overslot bonus, and his bonus came in as the 23rd-highest bonus of the 2009 draft. Fields, who got more than Oliver, came in at number 19 on the bonus list. So the Tigers gave away three of the top 23 signing bonuses from the draft. They didn’t spend a lot on top of that, but those three add up to a significant amount. By my rough estimate, the Tigers spent somewhere between $9 and $9.25 million on bonuses this year, easily one of the higher amounts in baseball. They might not get their money’s worth in the end, considering they only got four overslot guys (the other was James Robbins), but their amount added up to that much.
As for the grade, I’m not sure I can go too high here. I like drafting talent by pure volume, not just by a few high-ceiling guys. Sure, Turner makes this draft a very solid one, and Oliver and Fields have plenty of upside, too. However, the rest of their draft didn’t wow me, and I’m not sure there’s really any Major League talent outside of their trio of talented millionaires. Michael Morrison returning to form could help, but he’s only one relief arm. If Wade Gaynor can turn around his rough entrance into pro ball, that could be also be a boost. In general, I don’t think they added any safer bats or arms, and the draft is all about mixing risk and reward, so I felt they went too much on the riskier side. However, top-tier talent holds its own advantages, so I have to give this draft a solid grade based on Turner, Oliver, and Fields.
FINAL GRADE: B.
Note: If you have signing bonus information or other information you wish to share, feel free to comment or email me at mlbbonusbaby at gmail dot com.