Thursday, June 6, 2013

How the MLB Draft Helped Shape the 2013 Detroit Tigers

Hey, it’s time for the MLB Draft! Hooray! Weeks of mock drafts, draft parties, high TV ratings, all sorts of fun and…

Wait. I’m thinking of the NFL and NBA Drafts. No one cares about the MLB Draft other than those being drafted, their families, and hopeless dorks like David Tokarz.

But that doesn’t mean the Draft isn’t important. In fact, to the lower payroll teams, the Draft is EVERYTHING. If you can’t afford expensive free agents, you can only compete by developing good, young talent. That’s how the Rays have been good the past few years. Not that the people of Tampa have noticed…

But even though the Tigers currently aren’t afraid to spend money, it doesn’t mean the Draft isn’t important to them. You can’t just field a team of nine overpaid established guys every night...unless you’re the Yankees. You need to develop SOME talent. Even if they’re eventually used to trade for another player. No two teams are built the same.

There’s a couple things for certain when it comes to the Tigers and the MLB Draft:

1. They suck at it. The list of good players drafted by the Tigers in the past twenty years is Justin Verlander. That’s about it.

2. They always take a hard throwing right-hander early. (They just used both of their first round picks on hard throwing right-handers Jonathon Crawford from Florida and Corey Knebel from Texas. Business as usual.)

3. They will waste their late picks by drafting relatives of current players and/or team employees. Drives me insane.

4. Dave Dombrowski will have no issues in trading his young players in order to get better. Often with the Marlins. And he usually gets the better of the deal.

That last one is the key, usually, with the Tigers. Tonight, in honor of the Draft, I thought I’d take a look at how the MLB Drafts of the past have affected the current Tigers roster.
Starting Catcher: Alex Avila was a fifth round pick by Detroit in the 2008 Draft.

Starting Second Baseman: Omar Infante was acquired (with Anibal Sanchez) from the Marlins for Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, and Brian Flynn. Turner was Detroit’s first round pick in 2009. Brantly was Detroit’s third round pick in 2010. Flynn was Detroit’s seventh round pick in 2011.

Starting Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta was received in a trade from the Indians for Giovanni Soto, the 21st round pick of the Tigers in 2009.

Starting Third Baseman (and God of Hitting a Baseball):  Miguel Cabrera was acquired (along with Dontrelle Willis) from the Marlins for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, and Dallas Trahern. Maybin was Detroit’s first round pick in 2005. Miller was a Tigers first rounder from 2006. Rabelo was a fourth round pick of the Tigers in 2001. Badenhop was a 19th round pick for Detroit in 2005. Trahern was Detroit’s 34th round pick in 2004.

Starting Left Fielder: Andy Dirks was the eighth round pick of the Tigers in 2008.

Starting Center Fielder: Austin Jackson (along with Max Scherzer, Phil Coke, and Daniel Schlereth) was acquired in a three team deal that centered around the Tigers giving up Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. Granderson was Detroit’s third round pick in 2002.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander was Detroit’s first round pick in 2004.

Starting Pitcher: Anibal Sanchez was in the Infante deal mentioned earlier.

Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer was in the Jackson deal mentioned earlier.

Starting Pitcher: Doug Fister was acquired from the Mariners (with David Pauley) for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, and Francisco Martinez. Wells was Detroit’s 14th round pick in 2005. Furbush was a fourth round pick of the Tigers in 2007.

Starting Pitcher: Rick Porcello was the first round selection for Detroit in 2007.

Relief Pitcher: Drew Smyly was Detroit’s second round pick in 2010.

Relief Pitcher: Phil Coke was in the Jackson deal mentioned earlier.

Relief Pitcher: Luke Putkonen was the Tigers’ third round pick in 2007.

So, of the current MLB roster, six players were actually taken by the Tigers in the MLB Draft at some point. You can up that to seven if you include Don Kelly, originally drafted by Detroit in the eighth round in 2001. But he spent time in the Pirates organization since then, so I didn’t count him. I also didn’t count him because he’s Don Kelly and he shouldn’t count for anything.

Eight players were acquired in trades that involved players the Tigers drafted. This includes Cabrera and three-fifths of the best starting rotation in baseball. None of these guys would be in Detroit if the other clubs didn’t think they were getting quality in return. That, or they’re just stupid like the Marlins.

So yes, the Draft is important. And maybe the Tigers aren’t as bad as it as I like to joke they are. But HOW it is important…now that is something that we may not know for years to come.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go prepare for this weekend when the Tigers will probably draft Mario Impemba’s nephew or the step-cousin of Tom Brookens’ neighbor.

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