2015 MLB Draft Review: Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers entered Monday’s 2015 MLB Draft with much anticipation that centered around having three picks on the opening night for the first time since the draft’s latest made-for-TV format came into existence in 2007.
The Tigers barren-looking farm system is consistently ranked among the most lean in MLB by those who like to compile lists of such rankings. GM David Dombrowski steadily uses his prospects as tradable assets to acquire help for his big league roster and last off-season’s trading spree left his system particularly bereft of attractive players.
Selecting this year at picks number 22, 34, and 65 on the draft’s first night is hoped to be a step toward re-stocking with premium talents for the future. Whether they are eventually on the Tigers 25-man roster one day or used once again as trade chips remains to be seen. But, either way, these are important picks for the Tigers to get right.
A cheap rookie on the big league roster one day has its obvious merits for a club like Detroit that carries many expensive veterans. Likewise drafting a player that’s attractive on the trade market is sometimes an even more useful way to spend an early draft pick as the Tigers have proven many times in the Dombrowski Era.
Round 1 Pick 22
RHP– Beau Burrows, Weatherford H.S. (TX)
The Tigers decided to pass on the bevy of solid looking college arms that many assumed would appeal to them in Round 1. Missouri State’s Jon Harris, Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser, and Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler were all available. Given the Tigers lack of starting pitching depth in the upper half of their organization, a mature college arm seemed like a good bet. But that wasn’t to be.
The Tigers obviously were enamored with the Texas prep product who stands a listed 6’2” and throws consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball while touching the upper 90’s on occasion. Burrows is reported to throw a truly devastating 12-to-6 curveball to complement his lively heater. This combo allowed the Tigers to overlook Burrows’ frame. Though listed at 6’2”, he admits to being 6’1” and many observers feel he’s really 6’0”. The Tigers haven’t made a habit of drafting shorter pitchers but Burrows skill set has shifted that size preference to the side this year.
Burrows was committed to pitch at Texas A&M next season. However an offer in excess of $2M should put to rest most ideas of becoming an Aggie. Give Burrows his ticket to Low A West Michigan next Spring.
The Tigers drafted another Texas prep arm high in 2012 in Jake Thompson. Thompson is MLB bound most likely…but he’ll likely make it as a Texas Ranger. He was dealt last summer in a package for the Tigers to get reliever Joakim Soria. It will be interesting to see if Burrows impresses Tigers management to become indispensable in time or if he’ll end up as trade fodder in due course as well.
Round 1 Pick 34
OF– Christin Stewart, University of Tennessee
The Tigers can be counted on to mine the SEC for talent nearly every year in the draft. This makes the selection of Stewart no surprise at all and he probably won’t be Detroit’s last venture this week into that conference. This pick showed up in Detroit’s column as compensation for the departure of ace righty Max Scherzer to the Washington Nationals.
Stewart came on strong in his junior year as a Volunteer. He started showing more power and greater patience at the plate than in previous seasons. The Tigers have long had a dearth of power in their system from the left side of the plate, so this had to add plenty of appeal to Stewart’s resume in Detroit’s eyes.
An average arm and mostly average speed probably ticket him for left-field one day, though given Detroit’s field dimensions, don’t be surprised if he ends up in right-field either.
Not yet 22-years old, the Tigers can hope this lefty stick continues to fill out and add even more power to what he’s shown thus far. A system weak on high-end power bats could desperately use a “hit” on this draft pick emerging in Detroit as early 2017.
Round 2 Pick 65
LHP– Tyler Alexander, Texas Christian University
The Tigers returned to the state of Texas in Round 2 but this time to the college ranks. Southpaw Horned Frog starting pitcher Tyler Alexander got the nod from Motown with the pick.
Alexander is a draft eligible sophomore who logged 14 starts in his 16 appearances this past season in Fort Worth. He showed excellent control walking only nine batters in 91.1 innings pitched with 69 strike outs.
Alexander stands 6’2” and checks in at 180-lbs. The Texas prep product was throwing 87-mph as a high school senior but has added a few ticks in his college years. Given his slight frame, it’s possible there is more in the tank as his body fills out and matures over the next few years.
A career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 128/20 for a young lefty is always going to get some notice and that trait is likely what put Alexander on the map to be spotted by the Tigers and given the ticket into Round 2.
In the 2014 draft the Tigers also selected a high-school talent in outfielder Derek Hill. Once they did, they immediately shifted gears and drafted exclusively from the college ranks for nearly the next 30 picks.
Through three picks at least they are following the same pattern with the prepster Burrows and the college guys in Stewart and Alexander.
The Tigers are very likely to look into the SEC a bit more on Day 2. If they do, expect at least one player from Vanderbilt and perhaps one more from Arkansas. Both schools common providers of talent for the Tigers. Vandy especially is preferred hunting ground for the Tigers having seen a Commodore tabbed numerous times nearly every season.
Right-fielder Rhett Wiseman or infielder Zander Wiel could the next targets for the Tigers to continue the Vandy-to-Detroit lineage.